The Top 10 Reasons I Will Not Follow You in Return on Twitter is making its way around…well…Twitter today. Just reading the tile makes me wonder: why would someone expect to be followed in return? I guess it comes down to this question: What does it mean to follow someone? Is it different from friending them? And just what does “friend” mean in this context, anyway?

The way social networking sites use the term “Friend” has always bugged me. The actual software for Facebook, MySpace, or LiveJournal seems to use it to mean two distinct things:

  • An actual friend, someone with whom you interact on a personal basis.
  • An entity whose posts you’re following because you’re interested in the content, rather than invested in the person.

Wishful thinking aside, reading Neil Gaiman’s blog regularly doesn’t make me his friend.

Okay, so “Friend” is shorthand, but it brings in a load of connotations, blending the two meanings. People will freak out when a stranger “friends” them, will feel insulted if someone that they’ve friended doesn’t friend them back, or will feel rejected if someone de-friends them. I’ve heard it suggested that one reason people move from one social network to another is to start over with a clean slate of friends, and not have to worry about the drama of removing anyone from their current friends’ list.

Twitter, with the simple and direct term, “Follower,”, doesn’t seem like it would bring in the same level of baggage. To me, clicking “Follow” doesn’t feel like it has the same emotional weight as marking someone as a friend. I follow accounts that I find interesting, and that I actually have a chance of keeping up with. If someone follows me, I don’t feel obligated to follow them, and if I follow someone else, I don’t expect them to follow me.

So I was perplexed when I started seeing new followers showing up on my personal Twitter account who clearly had only done a keyword search on my latest tweet, or looked at who I was following. What were they expecting? That I would look at the “XYZ is following you!” email and trace it to their website? That I would follow them back?

It didn’t make any sense to me.

Of course, now I’m sure they were expecting me to follow them back. As this article suggests, a lot of people do see “Follow” as a synonym for “Friend”, and they were most likely trying to game that system.

In other words, despite the terminology, Twitter’s stuck with the same old baggage that clogs up other social networks.

Opera BrowserFollowing the trend of musicians setting up shop on MySpace, the social networking site now hosts a profile for the Opera Web browser. (Just kidding about the musicians part.) On a related note, I’ve found that on the rare occasions I’ve looked at MySpace pages, Opera tends to be more responsive than Firefox, which tends to slow to a crawl on the pages which seem to average about 23 MB apiece.

Of course, this brings up a question of serious importance: Opera lists itself as being “in a relationship.” With whom?

(via Opera Otaku)

Worms of the future: someone on MySpace *ptui!* came up with an actual JavaScript worm using cross-site scripting exploits and XMLHTTPRequest. In 24 hours, the worm had forced 1 million users to add him to their friends lists.

Personally, MySpace bugs the heck out of me because it seems to have a culture that encourages embedding images from other sites. 18% of hits to from other websites are from myspace. Admittedly that’s inflated by the fact that attempts to embed images from my Flash site redirect to the actual articles, so it’s probably more like 10%, but it’s still insane. Earlier this week I started blocking hits from MySpace to images posted on this blog, and I plan to do the same with the Flash images over the weekend. You like my photos? Great, link to my actual site! You like the scan I have of some movie logo? Great, copy it and upload it to your own site!

(via Slashdot)