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Facebook: Friends aren’t real friends


You had better be real scared if you offer me friendship on Facebook – I might take out a court case against you instead of simply Decline and Block. Not. Sheesh.

Facebook friends are not real friends: Judge (Daniel Emerson from Sydney Morning Herald)

A British judge has made official what many of us have long suspected – that being “Facebook friends” with someone doesn’t necessarily make you their friend.

The magistrate was presiding over a harassment case in which a woman accused her former boyfriend of hounding her by sending her a “friend request” on the popular social networking site on January 21.

The ex-boyfriend, Michael Hurst, 34, was cleared of the charge after the magistrate accepted his argument that the contact was highly innocuous because being “Facebook friends” could not be defined as “friendship in the traditional sense”.

I wonder how many friends Michael has? I bet it’s not a million:

“[Popular British radio DJ Chris Moyles] has 1 million Facebook friends. Do you think he knows them all intimately?” Mr Hurst said.

Geoff Dick, senior lecturer in information systems at the University of NSW, said he agreed with the judge that Mr Hurst wasn’t actually asking to become friends with his ex-girlfriend and physically spend time with her. He was merely suggesting that they give each other access to their profile pages, pictures and comments.

Is this an example of someone assessing the intentions of a social network member, and coming up with stalker? Strangers doing bizarre things are one thing, but clearly this woman has more to the story than simply an ex offering her friendship on Facebook. Is there an AVO? Did he request 2,000 times before she learnt how to block his requests? The SMH has done a hatchet job – as it stands, she looks like a goose. And I suspect that’s unfair.

Shel Israel (co-author of Naked Conversations with Robert Scoble) has a post on his blog about his not giving access to friends on Facebook. I can’t find the post right now – Facebook Inbox doesn’t have a search, nor does Shel’s blog – but it made me think: wouldn’t it be helpful to have a guideline note from the member? Such as “I am a friendly soul and accept most friendship offers”. Or “I use Facebook only for immediate friends and family – sorry – please follow me on Twitter?” And so on. By the way, I’m the opposite of Shel: I use Facebook for business and can’t be bothered writing up my truly personal stuff there. I use other (secret) networks for that!

I still wish Shel would add me as a friend. *looks woebegone* Heh.

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

One thought on “Facebook: Friends aren’t real friends

  1. Email from Shel Israel in it’s entirety cos Blogger sucks at making commenting (you click on “0 comments”) accessible.

    I am unable to open Comments on your Facebook Post. If I could I would have posted the following:

    You are my friend Laurel, although we have never met and are probably unlikely to meet in the real, tangible face-to-face sort of way, but not on FaceBook. I stopped adding friends several months ago, because I only use FB for playing Scrabulous, one of my many online addictions. I think the Direct Marketers have gained control of FB so I moved on to Twitter.

    I think this is the blog post you made reference to: GLOBAL NEIGHBOURHOODS LINK (added by LP to stop overrun of long URL). When searching for something on the Internet, you might try a site called Google. I find it works pretty well.

    Laurel, if you can open comments, feel free to enter this one.

    I’ve heard of Google… that’s the search engine that returns me 38,492,865 sites when I just want ONE right? 😛 I couldn’t remember the code for searching a particular website – is it site:http ? – and gave up, Mr Smartypants. Heh.

    Odd you should say that about Direct Marketers. I don’t receive direct marketing on FB, though I am aware it’s right for plucking. However, I think Twitter is more open for abuse – couldn’t a bot spam @messages pretty quickly? Interesting to see what happens when Twitter comes on the radar of DMs and spammers.

    Incidentally, I don’t play Scrabulous online (though I like Scrabble offline). I suspect it’s because my usual real world shenanigans of sniffling and crying to be allowed to have a misspelt word allowed, won’t work online.

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