Online Social Networks Redefine 'Friends'

Isn't 5,000 too many? Even spuds do well
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2008 11:00 AM CDT
Online Social Networks Redefine 'Friends'
This image provided by Facebook shows the social networking site's new look, Wednesday, May 21, 2008.    (AP Photo/Facebook, ho)

Online social networks such as Facebook and MySpace have altered the meaning of friendship, writes Steven Levy in The Washington Post. Instead of genuine chums, people are collecting hundreds and even thousands of friends without any real-world contact. When it comes to rejecting friend requests, "it's socially awkward, and very hard to draw the line," says one researcher.

Facebook limits one's friend count to 5,000, infuriating some users, though celebrities such as Barack Obama and Amy WInehouse can use special pages that allow an unlimited number of "fans." MySpace has no cap—and even non-humans can sign up. The profile of one potato has 2,965 friends. Of course, all this "hand-wringing" belongs to the older generation, writes Levy; young folks seem to have no trouble with it. (More MySpace stories.)

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