I've recently become active on Facebook, reaching out to a number of people with home I have worked/played/lived or otherwise come across over the past few years. I know it shocks Paul that I actually seem to have some people whom have confirmed that I am their friend (including Paul himself).
Facebook allows me to define access to portions of my profile depending upon a users status:
- Friend - someone with whom I have a direct relationship (they're in my list of friends)
- Friend of friend - someone who has a relationship with someone that I have a relationship with
- Network - A group of people that is organized based upon geographic locations, work, etc. I belong to both the Intel and Washington DC networks.
- Public - everyone else
This seems to be a simplistic picture of the world of relationships. I can see how I would like to be able to classify some people as acquaintances, some as friends, and some as close friends (giving them different access to my profile information). Just like I bring friends and close friends to my house, but not usually acquaintances.
This came up when, out of the blue, I received an friendship request from someone who I didn't know at all, but they were interested in one of the groups I'm interested in (solar energy) and it probably didn't hurt that they happen to be a fairly nice looking example of a female member of the human race. I wouldn't mind allowing them in as an acquaintance, but I really don't consider them a friend, nor do I want them to be able to see some of the portions of my profile that I make visible to friends. Also, as a responsible friend of my friends, I wouldn't want her to get access to the information exposed by my friends to friends of their friends (Paul, if you can't follow that, I can draw you a ven diagram of it later).
So I'd like to see some extended attributes around relationships added to social networking. Not just at Facebook, but also at other sites like Linked-In.