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. 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 oneself. On Facebook, for example, one’s “friends” have the privilege of viewing and posting to one’s “timeline”.
Following is a similar concept on other social network services, such as Twitter and Instagram, where a person (follower) chooses to add content from a person or page to his or her newsfeed. Unlike friending, following is not necessarily mutual, and a person can unfollow (stop following) another user at any time without affecting that user’s following status.
The first scholarly definition and examination of friending and defriending (the act of removing someone from one’s friend list, also called unfriending) was David Fono and Kate Raynes-Goldie’s “Hyperfriendship and beyond: Friends and Social Norms on LiveJournal” from 2005, which identified the use of the term as both a noun and a verb by users of early social network site and blogging platform LiveJournal, which was originally launched in 1999.
Get ready! Something really cool is coming!