Social Networks

Social Networking Sites Redefine Social Obligations Associated With Being ‘Friends’.

By Emily Stone

The term friend holds certain expectations and intimacy in a traditional offline world. However with the proliferation of Social Networking Sites and their ability to create friend lists the definition and expectations surrounding a friend has changed. Focussing on Friendster as an example of online users desires when it comes to displaying friends this paper will discuss the differences between online and offline friendships and why they should act under different classifications.

Friend. A simple word that holds many expectations of those whom one categorises within its boundaries. Pre-social networking, a friend was clearly understood as someone holding a voluntary, boundary less, non-sexual or familial relationship with another individual (boyd, 2006; Fischer, 1982). While friendships within this general definition still persist today there is a new form of friend that has evolved through affordances on social networking sites (SNS).

Despite all SNS being different common similarities are that they, offer participants the capacity to create a profile, often containing an image and personal description, and the ability to create links between themselves and other users (Donath & boyd, 2004; boyd & Ellison, 2008). The linking tools afforded allow users of a site to see the others profile and display their ‘friends’ in list format on an online forum for others to see (boyd & Ellison, 2008). Although it was initially expected that people would only friend people whom they were friends with in real life (boyd, 2006) most SNS users have extensive and diverse friend networks that include acquaintances and close friends and users often only interact directly with a small number of these displayed friends (boyd, 2006; Huberman, Romero & Wu, 2008). SNSs have therefore altered the meaning of the term friend and redefined expectations of friendships, both on and offline. Despite clear differences between online and offline friends, the increased blurring of the two can cause confusion and have a negative impact on the relationship.

Differing Social Expectations of Online and Offline Friends.

There are different roles when it comes to the expectations of online and offline friendships. While these changes, which have been altered through SNS, are not necessarily negative, it is impractical to assume that online and offline friends are held to the same expectations and standards.

Online being a ‘friend’ assumes that you have simply been provided access to someone’s profile and may not interact with them again, yet still see their arguably ‘personal’ posts online. Offline being a friend involves answering calls, helping with any problems they may be having, generally just spending time with each other in mutual agreement of fondness. Online a users list of friends is not segregated by friends, acquaintances and strangers which means there is no way to define who is someone’s friend in real life. There is little to no context on SNS as to what each name listed under ‘friends’ really means to that user.

Friending affordances vary form site to site. Some sites allow people to connect without reciprocation, others require both parties to confirm the request to connect profiles (boyd & Ellison, 2008; boyd, 2006). Once the connection is confirmed, the users profiles are connected and they will generally be allowed access to the others profile, friends list, posts and photos (Huberman et al., 2008; boyd, 2006). Some SNS try to lock their users into specific affordances surrounding friending other users. The most notable of these is Friendster. While I acknowledge the Friendster is an outdated SNS I see value in its analysis as the development of many modern sites has been impacted by the early days of Friendster. Looking into where SNS began and how and why they changed can provide insight into how SNS have altered the term friend and how friending services have changed and why.

The Costs of Friendship.

Before delving into the beginnings and eventual demise of Friendster it is beneficial to understand the costs that both online and offline friendships incur with accepting and then continuing a relationship. Offline friendships carry with them the expectation of emotional and practical support while carrying with it a sense of exclusivity (boyd, 2006). Whereas the distance between users when using SNS makes it highly difficult to perceive and act on social cues generally used to support and maintain offline friendships makes creating and maintaining the same level of emotional closeness found in offline friendships difficult (Baym, Zhang, Kunkel, Ledbetter, Lin, 2007; Short, Williams & Christie, 1976).While there is no ‘list’ in the offline world there are many different ways that people can display their friendships; parties, photos throughout their house, appearing in public with a friend (Donath & boyd, 2004; Feld, 1981; Csikszentmihalyi & Halton, 1981). There is arguably more energy required in order to maintain an offline friendship due to physically arranging times and places to ‘hang out’ or chat on the phone so that the relationship remains relevant. Where neglecting an offline friendship will often result in that relationship terminating, interacting with online friends or not they has no effect to them remaining linked to your profile unless a conscious decision is made to remove them. While online ‘friendships’ are arguably lower maintenance once established there are great costs surrounding the rejection of a friend request online (boyd, 2006; boyd, 2004).

A friend request can seem like a rather detached action. One user clicks a button which sends a request to the other user who has to decide whether they accept or decline, all the while never seeing the other face to face. The rejection of a friend request online can create a very socially awkward environment if the person is someone who you will potentially interact with offline in the future. This cost of rejection often sees users accept requests from people who they do not necessarily classify as their friend as accepting their request is easier than facing questions of the rejection (boyd, 2006). Accepting these friend requests often leads to connections made between individual’s with common friends who may have only met once or twice (boyd & Ellison, 2008; Haythornthwaite, 2005). All of these small influences surrounding why someone accepts an online friend request lead to users online listings to include individuals whom are either friends, acquaintances or strangers all under the one lump term ‘friend’ (boyd, 2006). The blanket term of friend in the online world removes the intimacy and importance associated with being referred to as someone’s friend in the offline world. While you may be someone’s ‘best friend’ in the offline world, in the online world you are lumped in to the same group as someone they met at a party once. The online world often removes all hierarchy involved with friendships in the offline world. While Friendster attempted to control this excessive friending their intervening was not well received by users.

Friendster vs MySpace.

Friendster is a SNS that was founded in 2002 and was specifically created and designed to create a place for people to connect with those they already knew (boyd & Ellison, 2008; boyd, 2006). The developers of Friendster put a limit on their friending tool so that users were only able to friend and see profiles of people to 4 degrees of connection (friends of friends of friends of friends) (boyd & Ellison, 2008; boyd, 2006). The reason for this is being the site was designed as an alternative to the current dating sites which aimed to connect people with strangers (boyd & Ellison, 2008). What developers did not predict is that users would want to connect to as many people as they could within the site. These users became known as ‘Collectors’ as they began adding people they had no offline connection to in order to ‘collect’ as many profiles or friends as possible (boyd, 2006). As users began collecting in order to broaden their network they also began creating fake accounts, ‘Fakesters’, in order to expedite this process (boyd, 2006). The developers of Friendster were not supportive of the users attempts to defy the limits that were put in place in order to keep the site tracking in the direction they desired. In retaliation the developers began deleting any profile they deemed to be a Collector or a Fakester (boyd, 2006; boyd & Ellison, 2008; boyd, 2008). The deletion of profiles signalled to users the difference in ideals from developer to user perspective causing many users to defect to new SNS (boyd & Ellison, 2008). The main defect site for users who left Friendster was MySpace. Unlike Friendster developers who rejected users attempts to changes their affordances within the site, MySpace embraced what users desired from a SNS — the free will to friend whomever they wish (boyd, 2006). What does this situation between developers and users of Friendster tell us about the way people want to use friending services on SNS? It tells us that the developers are attempting to emulate offline friendships in an online forum and that users are rejecting this transference.

MySpace and the Top 8 Experiment.

There are unspoken hierarchies in offline friendships where people are often aware of the level of relationship they have with someone. Though online platforms allow these to be visually represent through photos and in some instances specific SNS featuers.

MySpace implemented a feature called the ‘Top 8’ which allowed users to list 8 friends whom they considered to be their ‘elite’ friends. This feature allowed for a small number of those on your list to be displayed as your top friends a similar effect to that of displaying their photo on your refrigerator. While this may seem a good way to differentiate the friends from the acquaintances online users then struggled with who to select and with users being left out of their top 8 feeling left out (boyd, 2006).

Due to consumer complaints MySpace soon increased the limit of 8 friends though the fear of leaving out a friend and hurting someone’s feeling was still a great social cost on the users decisions (boyd, 2006). Deleting or leaving someone out of your Top 8 became a way to publicly display changes within your social circle, a simple action which is not as well practiced in the offline world (boyd, 2006). The context in which someone’s friendship is based can influence the relationship and provide the viewer with a clearer indication of the extent of that friendship (Donath & boyd, 2004), this context also influences the form in which that friendship will take (boyd, 2006; Adams & Allan, 1998). For example a friendship that is in an offline scenario and involves an array of physical bonding activities the context and form is of a stronger bond and friendship than that of an online friendship that consists of minimal interaction between users and a simple connection of their profiles through a friend list. Though in an online world that friend with the stronger bond and the acquaintance that you friended due to social costs are bundled into the same list.

Where to Next.

While this is not by any means an exhaustive look into SNS and their implications on the term ‘friend’ it provides important research and points connecting the beginnings of SNS to practices still seen today. Some researchers argue that the Internet is a way to create virtual communities in a way that will restore informal spaces of interaction (Kendall, 2011). Others suggest that the Internet facilitates the increase in isolation experienced in the modern world of technology (Barney, 2004). The community that most people are accustomed is slowly being changed through Internet affordances, including SNS, that see the world being reduced to a place of social isolation where online friends are becoming the new commodity to signal power or popularity in the online world (Kendall, 2011).

The initial attempts from Friendster developers to control how far users could search to create connections was met with such distain from its users that they eventually defected to a site, MySpace, that had no such restrictions. Signalling that people were not simply searching for their friends online but were also not adverse to the inclusion of strangers and acquaintances being added to their list of ‘friends’. While at times this may be due to social costs associated with a declined friend request there has also been evidence of people aiming to have as many friends as they possibly can. Friendsters early failure to adjust to what its users wanted saw its fall in 2015 and the subsequent rise, in years prior, of sites such as Facebook and Instagram who followed MySpace in not limiting users abilities on creating connections for their friend lists. Many sites still use ‘friend’ as the term associated with links and required mutual acception sites such as Twitter and Instagram have adopted the term ‘follower’ which often do not require mutual connection though in some cases require at least one users approval. The term follower is likely to be a more accurate way to define and categorise most peoples social networking connections.

Further research in regards to online and offline friends could continue to close the gap on conversations surrounding what it means to be a friend. While it may be a simple question to answer for offline friends, online friends are a new form of ‘friendship’ that do not follow the same social conventions of offline friends.

Online and offline friends travel along separate lines and while some may cross over, for example a users best offline friend may very well appear in their online friend list, the lack of segregation and the increased freedom of friending abilities has seen that the two follow different social expectations and thus should be seen under separate definitions of the term friend.

Reference List:

Adams, R., & Allan, G. (1998). Placing friendship in context. Cambridge University Press.

Barney, D. (2004). The vanishing table, or community in a world that is no world. In A. Feenberg & D. Barney (Eds.), Community in the Digital Age (pp. 31-51). Rowman & Littlefield

Baym, N. K., Zhang, Y. B., Kunkel, A., Ledbetter, A., & Lin, M. (2007). Relational quality and media use in interpersonal relationships. New Media & Society, 9(5), 735-752. https://doi.org10.1177/1461444807080339

boyd, d. (2004, April 24). Friendster and publicly articulated social networking. Paper presented at Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Vienna Austria. https://doi.org10.1145/985921.986043

boyd, d. (2006). Friends, Friendsters, and Top 8: Writing community into being on social network sites. First Monday, 11(12), n/a.

boyd, d. (2008). None of This is Real: Identity and Participation in Friendster. In J. Karaganis (Ed.), Structures of Participation in Digital Culture (pp. 132-157). Social Science Research Council.

boyd, d. m., & Ellison, N. B. (2008). Social Network Sites: Definition, History and Scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(2008), 210-230. https://doi.org10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00393.x

boyd, d., & Donath, J. (2004). Public displays of connection. BT Technology Journal, 22(4), 71-82.

Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Halton, E. (1981). The meaning of things: domestic symbols and the self. Cambridge University Press.

Feld, S. L. (1981). The Focused Organization of Social Ties. American Journal of Sociology, 86(5), 1015-1035. https://doi.org10.1086/227352

Fischer, C. (1982). To Dwell Among Friends: Personal Networks in Town and City. University of Chicago Press.

Haythornthwaite, C. (2005). Social networks and Internet connectivity effects. Information, Communication & Society, 8(2), 125-147.

Huberman, B. A., Romero, D. M., & Wu, F. (2008). Social networks that matter: Twitter under the microscope., (2008, December), 1-9.

Kendall, L. (2011). Community and the Internet. In M. Consalvo & C. Ess (Eds.), The Handbook of Internet Studies (pp. 309-325). Blackwell Publishing.

Short, J., Williams, E., & Christie, B. (1976). The social psychology of telecommunications. Wiley.

20 replies on “Social Networking Sites Redefine Social Obligations Associated With Being ‘Friends’.”

Hi Emily,

As a “Digital Immigrant” (Prensky, 2001) I thoroughly enjoyed your paper because I found it fascinating to read the developments over time of ‘friending’ on SNS. I did not use Friendster or MySpace, but I do recall the arguments between teenage girls that the MySpace ‘top friend list’ enacted during my daughter’s adolescence.

I notice on my own social networks that my friends (mostly in their 40s and 50s) will often refer to their friends on Facebook in a way that suggests they understand precisely your argument in this paper. They will say “just want to let all my Facebook friends know this,” or “Hi there Facebook friends…” or “Letting all my Facey friends know..” those sort of references I think are indicating that those born in a pre-digital age like to acknowledge there is a difference between close connections offline and many connections online – even though they would still see value in both types of friendships.

Perhaps the “Digital Natives” (Prensky, 2001) just don’t see the need to make a differentiation, they may just view your argument as assumed knowledge, although the arguments you have cited from Boyd, (2006) and Boyd, (2004) would suggest otherwise.

I agree with your argument that it is important that people understand and view online friendships as different to offline ones. The introduction of the ‘follower’ status is a step in the right direction.

There is a great episode on the Netflix science fiction anthology series “Black Mirror” (Season 3) titled ‘”Nosedive” which imagines a future world where people can rate each other online for every online and offline interaction, gathering up ‘likes’ and those likes establishing a rating in the real world that can improve their socioeconomic status, where they are allowed to buy a house etc. It’s a comedic twist on online life but it’s a fascinating look when you think of it as a reflection of the weak friendship links established on SNS that may otherwise be perceived as ‘valuable’.

Prensky, M., (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part 1. On the Horizon, Vol. 9(5), 1-6.

Hi Leanne,

I am so glad you enjoyed my paper! I think there is definitely a generational gap with many things technological and it is interesting that you note your friends vocalise the difference between online and offline friends. I am in my early twenties and none of my friends refer to people like this online! Which is interesting considering I know for a fact I am still ‘friends’ with people that I would not have spoken to in more than five years so are they really still my friend?

I think that the introduction of this term ‘follower’ is much more accurate to me of these online connections. Perhaps one day Facebook will change the way that they display their connections. I think ‘follower’ represents the action taken by the online users as often there is little interaction other than a like here or there but you are still ‘following’ someones life.

That episode is amazing. That show in general fascinates me so much and I love it. Though that episode really hits you with some harsh realities of social media. I think that even though you don’t gain the social capital that they have in the episode, which acts more as money, I do believe that social media has the potential to provide someone with stronger influence in the world than someone with a low social media presence.

Hi Leanne

I liked your example of witnessing some Facebook users clarifying their friend silos (hello facey friends), I hadn’t thought about that myself before.

The Nosedive episode on black mirror is an alarming visual representation of how online interactions could harm or benefit our reputation in the offline world if the two were ever amalgamated. The idea of allowing anonymity online has its benefits!

Hi Nicholas,

It is interesting that you mention ‘if the two were ever amalgamated’. Anonymity definitely has its pros especially in online gaming and chat forums or advice pages. However in the realm of personal social networking sites where your identity is the brand (instagram, twitter, facebook etc) there is not really much anonymity and these are the types of SNS referenced in Nosedive. I think that Nosedive isn’t too far off what our world as become. It reflects that your offline actions effect your online success which then comes back around and limits your offline capabilities and who wants to hang out with you.

While this is an exaggerated way of looking at it your online life definitely impacts your offline world and I believe the two are already linked. When you have a job interview now often they do a social media sweep to get an idea of who you are. Too many partying photos could cost you a job. Before you upload a photo you think about it alot as your friends and other connections will see it and it could impact how they think of you.

I agree with you that I hope it does not reach the extremes of Nosedive! Though I do believe there already is a link where what is online can impact your offline achievements (think football stars namely NRL).

Hey Emily,
Great formatting with your post. As someone with an artistic background, I very much enjoyed the italics and formatting choices.
What do you think of Danah Boyd’s research? Is she one of your favorite sources? Do you agree/disagree with her ever? I personally really enjoy each one of her papers, she’s easy to read compared to other writers.
It would have been nice to see a screenshot of Friendster so I could have a mental image to refer to. Still a very interesting exploration paper of the network though!
I loved that you talked about the distinct differences between offline and online friends. It reminds me of a conversation I had once with a heterosexual male friend – I complained about strangers friend-requesting me. He told me he only accepts friend requests from strangers when they’re beautiful females. I then countered that with saying – if you accept the friend request, then you come to know all this personal information about them, and if/when you do finally meet in person somewhere, it will be strange to have a conversation having intimate knowledge about her already. It will be impossible to have certain small talk as you’ll already know the answers from her posts (Not to mention the online security risks hahaha). He hadn’t realised that, and it definitely left him thinking. In my opinion, I think we too often use social media without thinking about what we’re really doing.
I liked that you actively compared Friendster and MySpace! Definitely interesting to think about the differences between the two, and point out how MySpace failed partially with Top 8. I can imagine in high school Top 8 would have a significant impact on adolescents and their self-worth.
Great work, you should be proud of yourself!
Thanks for a good read.

Hi Anne-Marie

I’m glad you enjoyed my paper! I think it is pretty timely, although I analysed two outdated platforms this conversation is definitely still in play today! These two platforms are more a reason as to why.

I love danah boyd I agree she is very easy to read and she doesn’t make things too complicated. Her wording is simple and she gets straight to the point! Which makes her a great author to learn a lot from.

It is interesting you mention this conversation with your friend. I have seen many memes about how when ‘first meeting someone’ not to accidentally ask how their trip to Bali was in 2012 because you have stalked their profile! I think this tends to emphasise some of the problems with friending people whom are more strangers or at best acquaintances, you end up feeling as though you know them though in reality you only know what they disclose on social media. Which from my experience from watching my offline friends online behaviours is sometimes not an entirely true perspective.

The funny thing I find about the Top 8 is that I am sure this was something already in place though it was not explicitly stated all the time. Though the Top 8 feature allows for a visual medium to portray this friendship hierarchy which I agree could really negatively impact youth.

Do you think that follower is a better term and that all platforms should make the change?

I find this point you made about meeting someone online changing the dynamic of meeting them offline really interesting – especially because getting to know someone through their social media profiles and mediated interaction strikes me as the premise of online dating. It’s something that is becoming quite common.

A second thing I wanted to add was that a similar situation actually happened to me – I got on really well with someone who I had met online, but when we met offline it just wasn’t the same and was a minor disaster. So I definitely agree with your argument, but that difference between offline and online friends that Emily delineated is becoming increasingly more and more blurry and interchanged and almost oscillatory.


Hi Sam,

I think that is a problem that so many people would face these days! Meeting someone online and hitting it off though really in person when you can see who they really are and all their quirks you might go actually no. Though sometimes you’ve already invested a few weeks into talking online!

It is interesting how many new ways there are to communicate and meet people. What negatives do you think there are in the new ways to form connections?

Look forward to hearing your thoughts!


Yeah absolutely, I think there is so much that you cannot communicate through purely online means. And I think that is the main negative, that we perhaps don’t realise or prioritise non-verbal communication as much when we form connections online. Which can impact empathy, perhaps, or deprive us of that form of interpersonal communication? I’m not entirely sure, it would be something I would have to really research properly, but that is my hunch!

Hi Sam,

I think that verbal communication and the emotional bond that creates is very underestimated and overlooked as it is something that we do and form over our whole lives. It is not necessarily something that is taught to us or always explicitly stated. Perhaps it was something that would not have even been noticed had it not been for the proliferation on SNS!

Hi Emily,

This is a very interesting topic, and I like it! 🙂

You have an attractive title for the paper, mentioning the changing trends in friendship patterns in the old and the new era that is flooded with social media platforms. I agree with your definition of “Friend” during the pre-social networking and the networking era. The composition of a “friend” has changed over the years, attributing to the growing reliance on social media friendship tendencies.

Moreover, I concur with your illustration of the new model of friendship created through social media sites, which entails the creation of a profile and establishment of links. Concurrently, social media has altered network patterns because earlier, friendship was more physical to involve people who were closely related. Your categorisation of friendship into offline and online is also on point. The article is very educative about the role of social networking sites in friendship, and the evolution of the definition of friendship over the years due to social networks.

However, I would suggest also including the latest social networking sites like Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp and explore how they have changed the friendship patterns.

Overall, it’s a very well-written paper and you’ve covered very good points. Thank you for the read.

Kind Regards,

Hi Cynthia,

Thankyou for your comments! I am glad that you enjoyed reading my paper.

I think there are definitely instances where people create friends in the more traditional way and they then migrate to being friends online also. Though I know I am friends with people on Facebook who I went to school with and haven’t spoke to in five or six years! There is definitely room to research more and look into newer platforms and see how it has changed from SNS initial beginning. What platform do you think best manages these friends? I believe that Instagram has nailed it with the term followers and the option of private and public accounts giving people more opportunities to control who sees them. Do you think it is a positive or negative impact on the term friend and our subsequent relationships?

Look forward to hearing back from you!


Hi Emily,

I actually on the same boat as you. I have all these high school friends, but after graduation, we never actually spoke.
Yes, Instagram has been really a hit for some time now due to its popularity. People do still use Twitter though? But, I guess that still the same as Instagram as you mentioned above, how it uses the term followers and private or public account.

It’s a bit of both, I reckon. It’s definitely could be on the positive and negative side. Sometimes you build such a good connection online with someone but, once you met in real life, it’s not up to your expectations. It could be the other around how SNS actually bring people together and closer, even talk to someone that you never talk to before and actually connected.


Technically, being on Facebook actually brings people together and you can see how other people doing even though you never talk to them in years but it’s good to see that they are doing good and happy. On the other hand, Facebook stores a lot of private and personal life that you shared so, just make sure that you are friends with the people you know, not some strangers you just met on the street and giving them a full insight of your life.

Everyone is different right? Same as with anything no-one will have exactly the same experience as someone else! I know my mum for instance uses FB only to see what all the children, cousins, kids we grew up with, her friends are doing. She doesn’t accept a friend request from just anyone! Though I am friends with many people who would really be considered acquaintances! I think that SNS have so many fantastic qualities with keeping friends and family connected! Though there are also many negatives with the information displayed as you mention and the blurring of friends and acquaintances as they become listed under the same term!

Hi Emily,

Yes, everyone is different 100%. That’s exactly what my mum also use Facebook for haha.
I agree with you above statement. SNS is an interesting place that helps bring everyone together and connected.


Hi Emily

I imagine SNS like Facebook are able to categorise all of a user’s friendship base using an algorithm to determine how likely two connections are to being online AND offline friends.

Snapchat in its early days had a rolling ‘top friends’ count which I’ve heard created a whole ocean of complaints from people asking why their partner was top friends with their best friend, haha!

Right now as we’re mostly sitting at home avoiding interaction of our offline friends, it’s interesting to note who you feel compelled to get in touch with, and who reciprocates. Surely an effective way of distinguishing between true offline friends and our online-only ‘connections’.

Your paper reminds me of a great Tim Urban piece from a number of years back, titled ’10 Types of Odd Friendships You’re Probably Part Of’ (link below) which discusses how as we grow our friendships change.
He labels different ‘tiers’ of friends which exist and how these form. Definitely worth a read!

Hi Nicholas,

You would think there is an algorithm that they could sort your friends list into subsequent categories! They are able to suggest friends based on mutual friends or suggest who to tag in your photo or in a meme so why not categorise your friends list! Though this may then simulate similar issues to Snapchats top friends dilemma! While it may seem simpler as you can say ‘hey I don’t make the decision!’ the decision is made from some form of consistent online interaction. If Facebook categorised the friends lists when people move and change it could create similar MySpace Top 8 problems and this time the user can do nothing to appease their friends! The other problem is that this would be made under the assumption that those whom you interact with online are also your closest offline friends which isn’t always the case. I myself interact with a lot of people through Facebook due to living in a different state!

It has been interesting the people whom you see yourself reaching out to and who does and potentially doesn’t reach out to you in a time like this! That article is very interesting and I have definitely found myself in situations like that! The mountain picture is a great graphic for visualising the formation and growth of friendships!

Thanks for your comment Nicholas and for sharing that awesome article!


Evening Emily

I really enjoyed your paper right from the very start. I was immediately drawn to your paper due to the style of font you wrote your abstract in. Everything about your paper was aesthetically pleasing. I also enjoyed your opening paragraph where you described the meaning of a friend. I do question your assumption that it is impractical to assume that online and offline friends are held to the same expectations and standards. I have friends on Facebook that I had when I was a child and at 52 I also have friends that I have only met in the last year or so. For me, some of them mean more to me than others regardless of how long I have known them and whether they are my online or offline friends. I suppose for some people they have a combination of friends both online and offline but for me most of my friends may be online but at some time or another they were originally offline friends. Do you think that this is different for younger people? I look forward to your thoughts. Well done on your paper. I enjoyed reading it. Good luck with the rest of the conference.

Regards, Tracey

Hi Tracey,

Thankyou for your comments on the aesthetics of my paper!

I think potentially you have misunderstood parts of my paper! I am not stating that you have soley online friends and offline friends (while there are some people that might!). I myself have met 99% of my online friends! The point that my paper is arguing is that whether you have known someone from, similar to what you have mentioned, when you were a child to only from two years ago online they are all grouped under one term despite meaning completely different things to you offline and you holding different expectations for them. There is no segregation online from someone who is a close friend to someone who is an acquaintance they are all listed together in alphabetical order.

Hi Emily,

You have an interesting topic and I enjoyed reading your paper!

You have presented well in your paper the difference between an online and offline friendship with a great start of the word “Friend.”; what is a pre-social networking friend and an SNS friend; the social expectations of online and offline friend; costs surrounding the rejection of a friend request online; why Friendster users defect to MySpace; and the ‘Top 8’ features implemented in MySpace.

It is interesting to learn about Friendster and MySpace as I have only used Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to communicate with my online friends. It is also interesting to learn that there are also fake accounts in Friendster called “Fakesters” which you pointed out as “users were only able to friend and see profiles of people to 4 degrees of connection (friends of friends of friends of friends) … users began collecting in order to broaden their network they also began creating fake accounts, ‘Fakesters’”.

I agree with your argument that “Online and offline friends travel along separate lines and while some may cross over… lack of segregation and the increased freedom of friending abilities has seen that the two follow different social expectations and thus should be seen under separate definitions of the term friend”. I have offline friends that I consider my real friends who I see and do things together but I also have some online friends that are “friends of my friends” that I accepted as a “friend” whom I have not even met yet. I also have different expectations from online friends compared to my offline friends which also supports your argument that “online friends are a new form of ‘friendship’ that do not follow the same social conventions of offline friends”.

Thank you.

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