The Definition of “Friends”

This morning, InsideFacebook reports that “Facebook has added two new undocumented functions to its API Test Console this evening that appear to reference an as-yet-unreleased feature called “Friend Lists.”” They continue: “The addition of Friend Lists means one can now much more flexibly and powerfully manage privacy settings per List. Work friends see one portion of your profile, personal friends see another, best friends see yet another.”

In addition, a few minutes ago, my friend (and Praized Media partner) Sylvain sends me this relationships chart, part of an effort to standardize the definition of “friend”. He found the reference to it on a Google group that discusses Social Network Portability (see my post about the web becoming a giant word of mouth machine to understand the impact of social network portability).

The relationships chart tries to capture all types of relationships that can exist between two persons. Examples include lifePartnerOf, neighborOf, worksWith and wouldLikeToKnow.

What it means: 6 weeks ago, I had forecasted that Facebook would modify and add layers to their definition of “friend”. It seems like this is coming sooner than later. This could represent a serious threat to Linkedin. Moreover, many smart people on the world wide web’s edge are thinking about social network interoperability. That’s why I strongly believe “social” will become part of the fabric of the web. Better follow these conversations now if you want to hook yourself early on with these new standards.

4 thoughts on “The Definition of “Friends”

  1. You’re absolutely on the mark. This will be what pushes Facebook over the top and makes it a viable business-tool option to LinkedIn. I wonder if these friends lists will configurable by photo album, applications, and other items that can generate notifications?

    -Paulo

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