This article is about social networking friend lists. For general interpersonal relationships, see Friendship
Friending is the act of adding someone to a list of "friends" on a social networking service. The notion does not necessarily involve the concept of friendship.[footnotes 1] It is also distinct from the idea of a "fan" — as employed on the WWW sites of businesses, bands, artists, and others — since it is more than a one-way relationship. A "fan" only receives things. A "friend" can communicate back to the person friending.
The act of "friending" someone usually grants that person special privileges (on the service) with respect to onesself. On Facebook, for example, one's "friends" have the privilege of viewing and posting to one's "wall".
Friend collecting 
The addition of people to a friend list without regard to whether one actually is their friend is known as hyper-friending or friend whoring. This is an activity that is particularly seen on the parts of organizations that have social networking service memberships. This is because they can make use of the services' "mail all of my friends" capabilities to broadcast messages to a large number of people.
Matt Jones, of Dopplr, went so far as to coin the expression "friending considered harmful" to describe the problem of focussing upon the friending of more and more people at the expense of actually making any use of a social network.
Social network friending and friendship 
There are distinct groups of "friends" that one can friend on a social networking service. The notion of a social network friend does not necessarily embody the concept of friendship, although terminology has not yet evolved to distinguish the different types of social networking friends. These three categories of social networking friends are:
- friends who are actually known
- These are people that may be one's friends or family in real life, with whom one has regular interaction either on-line or off-line.
- organizational friends
- These are companies and other organizations who maintain a "friending" relationship as a contacts list.
- complete strangers
- These are social networking "friends" with whom one has no relationship at all.
Human nature is to reciprocate a friending, marking someone as a friend who has marked oneself as a friend. This is a social norm for social networking services. However, this leads to mixing up who is an actual friend, and who is a contact, not least because tagging someone as a "contact" who has marked one as a "friend" is perceived as impolite. One social networking service, FriendFeed, allows one to friend someone as a "fake" friend. The person "fake" friended receives the usual notifications for friending, but that person's updates are not received. Gavin Bell, author of Building Social Web Applications, describes this mechanism as "ludicrous".
Ethical considerations 
The act of "friending" someone on a social networking service has particular ethical implications for judges in the United States. Judicial codes of conducts in the various states generally incorporate some form of provision that judges should avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Whether this regulates and even prohibits judges "friending" attorneys that appear before them, and law enforcement personnel, has been the subject of some analysis by the judicial ethics panels of the various states. They haven't all agreed on the guidance that they have given to judges:
- The New York state Judicial Ethics committee in 2009 simply advised judges to employ caution, noting that the issue of "friending" someone on a social networking service is a publicly observable act that is little different to other public behaviour concerns that judges already face.
- The Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory committee in 2009 noted that, judges being normal human beings, it was unavoidable for judges to form friendships outwith the responsibilities of their job. It prohibited judges from friending any attorneys that appeared before them, whilst allowing friending of those who do not, on the grounds that it may give the appearance to the general public (even if the substance is otherwise) that those attorneys who are friended hold special sway with the judge.
A minority opinion of the committee asserted that there is a substantive difference between "friending" on a social networking service and actual friendship, and that the general public, being aware of the norms of social networking services, was capable of drawing this distinction and would not reasonably conclude either a special degree of influence or a violation of the code of judicial conduct. This minority opinion was outnumbered twice in 2009, both in the Judicial Ethics Advisory and in the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Ethics Advisory committee.
- The South Carolina judicial conduct committee in 2009 permitted judges to friend attorneys and law enforcement personnel, with the proviso that no judicial business should be conducted upon nor discussed via the social networking service. "… a judge should not become isolated from the community in which the judge lives.", the committee stated.
- The Kentucky Judicial Ethics committee in 2010 took the same position as the minority opinion in Florida. It urged judges to exercise caution, but recognized that the act of friending "does not, in and of itself, indicate the degree or intensity of a judge's relationship with the person who is the 'friend'."
- The California Judges Association Judicial Ethics Committee and the Ohio Supreme Court's Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline, both in 2010, reviewed the opitions of ethics committees that had gone before them, and concurred with what appears to be the majority view, that it is permissible for judges to friend attorneys that appear before them, although with the exercise of caution, and as long as the rules of conduct are observed within the social networking service just as they are observed outwith it.
- ^ The transitive use of the verb "friend" to mean "befriend" is listed as an archaism in the Oxford Dictionary of English.
- "friend". Oxford Dictionary of English on-line. 2010. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
- Abram, Carolyn; Pearlman, Leah (2012). Facebook for Dummies. For Dummies (4th ed.). John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-09562-1.
- Alexander, Ido J. (May 2011). "Should Judges "Friend" You? Judicial Ethics in the Age of Social Media". ABI Committee News (Ethics & Professional Compensation Committee, American Bankruptcy Institute) 8 (2).
- Bell, Gavin (2009). Building Social Web Applications: Establishing Community at the Heart of Your Site. O'Reilly Media, Inc. ISBN 978-0-596-51875-2.
- Drucker, Susan J.; Gumpert, Gary; Cohen, Howard M. (2010). "Social Media". In Drucker, Susan J. Regulating Convergence. Communication Law. Peter Lang. ISBN 978-1-4331-1088-7.
- Palfrey, John; Gasser, Urs (2010). Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-01856-7.
- Rigby, Ben (2008). "Social Networking". Mobilizing generation 2.0: a practical guide to using Web 2.0 technologies to recruit, organize, and engage youth. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-22744-2.
Further reading 
- Fono, David; Raynes-Goldie, Kate (2006). "Hyperfriendship and beyond: Friends and social norms on LiveJournal" (PDF). In Consalvo, M.; Haythornthwaite, C. Internet Research Annual Volume 4: Selected Papers from the AOIR Conference. New York: Peter Lang. pp. 91–103.
- Liben-Nowell, David; Novak, Jasmine; Kumar, Ravi; Raghavan, Prabhakar; Tomkins, Andrew (2005). "Geographic routing in social networks" (PDF). Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences 102 (33). pp. 11623–11628.
- boyd, danah (2006). "Friends, Friendsters, and MySpace Top 8: Writing community into being on social network sites.". First Monday 11 (12).
- Quercia, Daniele; Capra, Licia (2009). "FriendSensing: recommending friends using mobile phones" (PDF). ACM RecSys.