Judge Says Being A Facebook Friend Isn't Like Real Friendship

from the glad-we-cleared-that-up dept

Turns out that your Facebook friends aren't necessarily real friends... under the law (at least in the UK). A UK judge has ruled that requesting to be a Facebook friend isn't the same as trying to become someone's real friend, which apparently matters in terms of harassment. The case concerned a woman who accused her ex-boyfriend of harassing her by requesting to be her friend on Facebook, but the judge apparently felt that since most people use Facebook and other social networks more as a list of acquaintances, it's hardly harassment to request to "friend" an ex.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    icon
    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Mar 28th, 2008 @ 8:57am

    Semantic abuse

    Yup, 'friend' is well on the way to have its meaning corrupted by these social networking facilities.

    Friend: Someone with whom you once exchanged an e-mail

    'Some of my best friends are recruitment agencies'

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    john, Mar 28th, 2008 @ 9:30am

    While reading this article, and I was struck that it probably was relevant to a social networking site, HumanBook, which has over 250 million profiles of people, including you, your friends, classmates and relatives.
    The HumanBook is a mutually managed people directory. People list their own real-life connections, and other connections they have awareness of, to create a lifelong network. The network houses the connections, and then the collaboratively updated address book nurtures them, assuring that they need never be lost. HumanBook is the tool that will allow you to cherish and sustain all of the connections of your whole life. So if you're interested, go to http://www.HumanBook.com and find your profile today!

     

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  3.  
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    TheDock22, Mar 28th, 2008 @ 9:40am

    Re:

    While reading this article, and I was struck that it probably was relevant to a social networking site, HumanBook

    How is it relevant at all to the article and not some shameless plug for yet another social networking site?

    I don't necessarily think it's harassment to have some request to be your friend on Facebook or MySpace. I mean, you always have the option to ignore the request and move on with life. This lady had obvious issues above some dumb friend request.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Mar 28th, 2008 @ 9:51am

    Re: john the spammer

    SPAM!

     

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  5.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Mar 28th, 2008 @ 9:55am

    How many times?

    I don't do the soc-net thing so I am not in the know about this but if someone requests your "friendship" and you deny them, are they unable to send requests again. I could see where it might get annoying if a person keeps sending "friend" requests after you have rejected them 1,000 times.

     

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  6.  
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    Marty, Mar 28th, 2008 @ 9:57am

    Re:

    While reading this comment, and I was struck that I would never consider joining a social networking site that A) spams comment boards and B) doesn't proof-read its spam for grammatical accuracy.

     

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  7.  
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    Marty, Mar 28th, 2008 @ 10:00am

    Re: How many times?

    You're correct. You cannot request again if you are denied. However, that person can initiate a friend request with you in the future should his or her mind change.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2008 @ 10:18am

    Re:

    Thanks. I will be contacting you to remove my information from your database.

     

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  9.  
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    Rev Erik, Mar 28th, 2008 @ 10:32am

    Re: HumanBook

    I checked out Human Book, while it does have my name and old zipcode, the rest of it is useless. It's missing major cities, major 5 star schools, and major Fortune 500 companies. It seems like a way to collect data on people, let the spam begin...

     

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  10.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Mar 28th, 2008 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re: HumanBook

    Checked mine, too. They have the correct city and zip but my age was off by over a decade. I have a fairly uncommon name and live in a town of approx. 30k so I doubt it is someone with the same name? Didn't go past the sign in page though.

     

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  11.  
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    Buzz, Mar 28th, 2008 @ 11:53am

    Wow

    I use Facebook. I reject friend requests from the various people to whom I have absolutely no connection. Even if there is a light connection (i.e. I know the person from an online forum or something), I tend to say no. Facebook is a great tool for keeping in touch with REAL FRIENDS. Anyone who goes onto Facebook or MySpace to FIND friends needs to use a handy little device in all homes called a "door".

     

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  12.  
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    krsd, Mar 28th, 2008 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re: Re: HumanBook

    The real question though is how do you remove yourself from such a site... of course that is not something their page seems to answer.

     

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  13.  
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    TheDock22, Mar 28th, 2008 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Wow

    Facebook is a great tool for keeping in touch with REAL FRIENDS.

    Exactly. I use it to keep in touch with friends, family, and old classmates. I would never accept a random friends request though. Every one of my "friends" are people I know face-to-face.

     

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  14.  
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    krsd, Mar 28th, 2008 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: HumanBook

    The real question though is how do you remove yourself from such a site... of course that is not something their page seems to answer.

     

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  15.  
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    Socially un-networked, Mar 28th, 2008 @ 12:17pm

    Social networks do have good points, but I feel that they allow people to be far too open with each other without considering the consequences first. I for one will never touch them, because I don't feel the need for everybody in the world to be my "friend."

    And the judge is right. A "friend" on a social network is often not a real friend at all, but rather an acquaintance, or perhaps a fair-weather friend. True friends stick with you through thick and thin, good and bad, etc. Such friendships are usually acquired through real-life interaction, not websites. I'm willing to bet most of the people on others' buddy lists will cut them loose the moment something bad goes down, unless said buddies are real friends in real life. While it's not impossible to form true friendships online, it would be difficult, in my opinion, to maintain them.

    I know I'm generalizing a lot, and I apologize if this offends somebody. But honestly, I feel we have become a society that is obsessed with quantity instead of quality, and that mentality is extending beyond manufactured goods to things like friendships as well. Instead of having dozens of "friends" on a website, try keeping a few really close friends in real life, and see just how rewarding it can be. I for one try to choose my friends carefully, and I would much rather have a friend I can actually do things with than a faceless screen name from somebody across the world that I have to sit in front of a computer to talk with all the time.

     

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  16.  
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    Peet McKimmie (profile), Mar 28th, 2008 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: HumanBook

    The answer, I suspect, is that you don't try.

    Maybe I'm just naturally suspicious, but a site like this that seems to have *some* of the data wrong about *everybody* sounds like a SPAMmer's dream - you see yourself, correct the info (or request that it be removed) and POW! you have verified that your details are, at least in part, genuine, thus making them more valuable for the site owner to sell on.

     

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  17.  
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    ehrichweiss, Mar 28th, 2008 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Semantic abuse

    Well crap, some of MY best friends are CEOs just about to make an IPO, some killer pharmacies, and some girls who constantly want to chat with me as long as they have my credit card number. ;)

     

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  18.  
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    ehrichweiss, Mar 28th, 2008 @ 12:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: HumanBook

    Ok, they don't actually have your information on the site. They're likely using page scraping on sites like zabasearch.com to pull up the name, address, etc. *when you submit your information* and then they get the rest after you fill out their form.

    So the real response to your question is: don't try to get it removed since it's likely not really there to begin with and any hint that your information is real is only going to give them a link to your name, address and an email address at which they can harass/spam you.

     

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  19.  
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    Rach, Mar 28th, 2008 @ 3:34pm

    Actually, I disagree.

    Being a facebook "friend" is STILL opening up more information than you might like, and if nothing else is an easy way to get all-too-personal with someone unless you explicitly block them. (and in the case of stubborn ex's, can still be used as an exploitable avenue of unwanted contact)

    Maybe not "legally" harassment, sure, but damned if this woman should somehow be "forced" to friend/defriend whoever she likes.

     

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  20.  
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    PaulT (profile), Mar 29th, 2008 @ 2:18am

    Re:

    Did you read the actual case? The way I read it, the guy accepted the feature in Facebook that imports your address books and sends friend requests to everyone you have there. His ex, who he'd been told to stay out of contact with, happened to be one of those addresses.

    It's dumb that this made it to court, but what the hell are you talking about "damned if this woman should somehow be "forced" to friend/defriend"? Click ignore when you get the request, no problem. No information is revealed (as long as you don't have a totally public profile, in which case whether someone's a friend is irrelevant) unless you accept the friend. The way it works with Facebook - you request someone as a friend, they say yes or no. Nothing's forced.

    @#5: For me that would be the issue. Send one friend request - no problem just ignore it. Hundreds? Yeah, that's harassment. I think this case was only one message though.

    @#11 & 13: Glad I'm not the only one. Facebook has been invaluable for me, getting back in touch with old friends and keeping in touch with people I know on 4 continents. Maybe the 14 year olds out there use it to try and "meet" new people and have the most friends on the site, but adults use it for useful purposes.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2008 @ 12:50pm

    Re:

    I agree but I have made two very close friends who's faces I have never seen... Two very close friends, and maybe 5 or so middle distance ones, out of around a hundred or so acquaintances who I hang out with online.

     

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  22.  
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    Zadig, Jul 23rd, 2008 @ 11:44pm

    I'm being harassed on facebook

    Hello, I have a question if anyone can answer this. I had apparently met this girl on vacation and I gave her my info. I don't remember meeting her and she herself says I don't remember her. I gave her my info, not that I remember, because she was another travel from the same city I'm from. I accepted her friendship request, but ask where I know her from. She said we met in Paris. I don't remember her. I don't always use the net so gave her my number saying don't be a stranger. Nothing more intended. She replies back but I tell her I'm not interested and she goes off. I still don't remember her, but she gives more info on me suggesting she was watching me that night. Then she doesn't stop sending messages, and got rude, started swearing, and basically harassed me, to a racist level. So, I Google info on this woman and according to her info she is Amber Wilson. When she kept sending messages, at one point after finding out who she was, I indicated that she must be vexed that an average guy is turning her down. Not only that, but for her not to give me advice on women (she did it hopping to insult me), because I apparently didn't care to take her info, didn't remember who she was or ever meeting her, but she cared to keep my info, remembered what I was doing, then contact me back. She got extremely upset and became rude and started swearing in her messages. I warned her that I'll take legal actions. Yet she goes on and on. Ignoring her doesn't work. The Calgary police said this is not against the law. I question it though, because someone from the same city is using the internet to harass me profusely. In this case a well known woman. Normally as a guy I would be happy, but I'm not single, she's not my type, and if I can't remember you, then you obviously were not my type. I'm blunt, and she got sensitive about it. Just because Playboy had their eyes on her means nothing to me. I'm tired of this chick who I think lost her mind because an average guy she was giving a chance turned her down bluntly. But that should not give her any right to harass me on a daily basis.

     

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  23.  
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    eliza, May 18th, 2009 @ 10:19pm

    hi

    I am in touch with my friends using my facebook account.so i dont feel that the friendship is not real.I love using facebook Eliza Recruitment Agency

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Rose, May 22nd, 2009 @ 1:37am

    Facebook Friend Isn't Like Real Friendship

    There is a light connection.Facebook is a great tool for keeping in touch with real friend.Anyone who goes onto Facebook need to use such site.

    -----------------------------

    Rose

    Recruitment Agency

     

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