|Synonyms:||flist, friendslist, friends page, watch list, watchlist, reading list|
|See also:||LiveJournal, InsaneJournal, JournalFen, Dreamwidth, deviantArt, Friending Meme|
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In on-line social networking sites, the term friends or friends list is used to describe a privileged relationship between users, but the usage differs from network to network. For example, friends lists can be used to compile blogs, journals, art or any content posted to such a network on a watch list, to manage journal access, or for filtering content into specific friend groups. Below lists the the specific features of each network that fans congregate on and use.
- Journal access control: If A has friended B, then B can see posts that A marks as limited to their friends list. This allows A to control access to these posts, rather than publishing publicly to their journal, the automatic RSS feed, and ultimately the whole Internet.  There are ways to control access to different posts for specific users: see Friends Groups, defined below.
- Journal post watching: If A has friended B, then A will automatically see B's posts in A's friends page. The LiveJournal system will collect B's public posts together with A's other "friends" and communities, and display them in a collated list, the friends page. A less-fraught and more accurate name for this is this is Watch list.
- Note that if A has friended B, but not the other way around, A will see B's public posts, but will not have any access to B's friendslocked posts. The locked posts will be invisible until/unless B friends A.
- Community post watching: If A friends Community C, all of the public posts in C will appear on A's friends list. However, communities can limit viewing access on any or all posts to members of that LiveJournal community.
Joining a community and watching (friending) it are two separate actions, while friending a personal journal combines both relationships in one action.
The journals designated as Friends are thus, collectively, one's Friends list or flist.
A journal with many Friend of relationships indicates that it is popular, whether for the personality of the author or the entertaining, even outrageous posts. This apparent popularity can be subverted by using Sockpuppets or other hacks.
Controversy Regarding Terminology
Many people have pointed out how complex, and possibly fraught with emotion the word "friend" is, and how its use in social networks may be misleading in many aspects. One doesn't need to consider another person a friend in order to want to allow them access to non-public information. Wishing to watch another journal's posts does not necessarily mean that one considers them a personal friend.
Another example of the misleading use of the term "friend" is the process of removing someone from your collated list of watched journals. On Livejournal this is known as "de-friending," an extremely emotionally loaded term that may not represent an accurate state of affairs. Sometimes a journal may in fact be dropped from another journal's aggregate list because journal owner A sincerely wishes to end her friendship with journal owner B, but more often than not it is a matter of time constraints or diverging interests, and the journal owners may remain friends or friendly acquaintances.
Many commentators have suggested separating the access control and the watch functions, to reduce confusion about the inter-personal (or inter-journal) relationships. As a result of this criticism, the LJ code fork Dreamwidth renamed the friends list (reading list) and split the functions into access and subscription.
- Livejournal FAQ #24 accessed October 5, 2008)
- Livejournal FAQ #219 accessed October 5, 2008)
- Hacking Reputation in Bruce Schneier's blog, December 7, 2006 (accessed 2008-10-11)
- Friends offer more than a link by Ruth Limkin, Courier-Mail [Australia] January 07, 2008, (accessed 2008-10-11)
- Friends, friendsters, and top 8: Writing community into being on social network sites by danah boyd. First Monday, vol. 12, no. 2 (December 2006) (accessed 2008-10-11)
- Dreamwidth changes from LJ in the Dreamwidth wiki, (accessed 2009-05-25)