24 August 2011

Facebook asks if you know new friends in real life

These last few days, announced a couple of big updates, certainly bigger than anything we saw this year from the largest social network to day, including a redesigned newsfeed and more transparent sharing and privacy (finally!). While waiting for these changes to be rolled out, I noticed another small thing during the final steps of adding a new friend. After receiving a friend request and confirming it through the ‘Friends’-page from the sidebar, I got an additional prompt, asking me whether I know the person in real-life. If doesn’t seem to have any visible effect; I clicked ‘Yes’ and all I got was a simple Thank you for your feedback. Facebook confirm friend connection in real life

I suppose Facebook could use this information to prioritize the friends you know outside of the network in the news feed, although I didn’t saw any indication of that; it would actually be quite difficult to notice a change, since these new friends haven’t posted much. Also, there’s no similar prompt popping up randomly asking if I know the friends I added before this started. More likely it’s a form of spam control: if a fairly new user starts adding lots of people and many answer ‘No’, it could be a good indication the profile is fake and used only for spamming. Personally I don’t usually add or confirm people I haven’t met offline; if I am interested in following or communicating with someone online, there are better ways to do it (, + or even the good old-fashioned subscribing to his blog).


  1. The purpose of this new question is so Facebook can penalize those who make new friends on the site. Facebook is great for making new friends, but they only want you to add your existing friends, who you already know personally, which is why they should just call the site Localbook. This is why they changed the add button from "Add as Friend" to "Add Friend". If you answer "no" to the "do you know this person" question after becoming/ignoring/hiding friends, you put them at risk of having their friending capabilities blocked temporarily or their account permanently disabled altogether for "Facebook misuse and 'harassment' of other users". This is why I just ignore the question, since I encourage others to add me as a friend whether they know me or not. Keep this in mind when people send you requests, and when you add others as friends, when you're supposed to just be "adding existing friends". There are plenty of protest pages on Facebook against their new annoying policy. If Facebook doesn't lift these ridiculous friending limitations, people will just move to a different site, such as MySpace to add friends without getting blocked or disabled just because their making NEW friends. Let's say Facebook's rules applied in a school cafeteria, and you were a new student. Every person you said "hey" to would slap you in the face because you didn't already know them personally. These new rules and regulations may become the downfall of Facebook.

  2. I don't think Facebook is in any major danger of users moving to other networks (not yet anyway). As for making new friends through Facebook, it has just launched the 'Subscribe' feature that can make connecting to other people more public, more like Twitter. I haven't tried it yet, but I suppose if you subscribe to someone and he/she subscribes back, it will be more or less equivalent to 'becoming friends'.