PlayboyU, powered by Ning, for college students only

Playboy, the granddaddy of porn, is trying to penetrate college campuses — and this is no special edition magazine featuring nude students.

Copying Facebook’s early playbook, it is launching a social network called PlayboyU that only people with .edu addresses can sign up for.

Notably, for Playboy, it says it won’t feature nudes. Instead, it will try to get students to network with each other without the rest of society getting involved. The site’s splash page (the page you first land on when you get there) still manages to be highly suggestive.

From what we understand, the .edu restriction implies professors and university staff could also join — again, like Facebook in its early days.

Playboy is using Ning’s build-your-own-social-network software, and will also include school-themed pages, event listings, polls, a syndication outlet for college media organizations and other typical social networking features that it hopes will appeal to students.

Competitors in the suggestive/soft-porn networking market include Zivity, which we covered last week. Also worth noting: Facebook and Myspace grew in part because it gave students an easy way to browse pictures of hot members of their peer group.

Playboy has been extending its empire from its storied magazine, not just to web sites but to venues like its new, popular nightclub in Las Vegas. The company is focused on cutting edge tech across all its properties.

For example, I recently heard a story about its Vegas club rejecting one person for past bad behavior. According to my source, the club used digital imaging video technology to immediately spot the person standing in line, instantly compare him against its video database of black-listed people and deny him entrance by the time he got to the door.

Perhaps it will integrate this face-matching technology to give PlayboyU members VIP access to its clubs.

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