Facebook has the concept of friends, whereas twitter has the concept of followers. Both define a relationship between users of the system.

  • Is there a substantial difference between the two?
  • What should one consider when choosing between the friend/unfriend paradigm and the follow/unfollow paradigm?
  • Are there other paradigms I'm not aware of for expressing user relationships?
  • 9
    Alternative paradigm: Stalkers, the user follows another user who don't know who is following him.
    – Alex
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 9:27
  • 2
    Being someones friend is MUTUAL agreement to see someones posts/shares depending on their settings,following someone is NOT mutual,therefore the follower will see different content as he is part of a community Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 11:12
  • 2
    I "friend" people I know: coworkers, school buddies, etc. I "follow" people I don't know: Steve Martin, Craig Ferguson, etc. Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 12:53
  • 1
    Worth nothing that friendship is a symmetric relation, i.e. "A is friend with B" implies that "B is friend with A". From a testing perspective, if A figures in the list of B's friends, then B should figure in the list of A's.
    – moonwave99
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 13:47
  • Funnily enough, the friending system in reddit seems to misunderstand the generally agreed-upon difference between friending someone and following them.
    – vijrox
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 16:49

2 Answers 2


Facebook have follow feature if the user have set her account to allow followers. Followers only see posts that the followed user posts publicly. The main difference is that both parties have acknowledge that there is a friend relationship. One sends a friend request – the other accept (or decline) the request. But to follow someone – there is only one party involved. The user just selects to follow someone and it’s effective immediately.

  • Friend – both users have to acknowledge relationship
  • Follow – one user can create the “relationship”
  • What reasons are there for requiring acknowledgement of the relationship?
    – Jon
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 11:13
  • 4
    @Jon If you were to get married wouldn't you want your partner to say "Yes" too? It's the same with friends - you can't be friend with someone on your own. The friends needs to acknowledge your friendship. Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 11:33
  • 1
    I was asking from the perspective of benefits. If users online become friends, what do they get out of it that's different from just following one another?
    – Jon
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 11:50
  • 1
    @Jon Sorry about the intended pun. In Facebook, users who follow can only see, like and comment on public posts - never on any other posts. But if you're a Facebook friend, you have all the other features like posting on friends wall, see all activity, play games (that have Facebook connected) together and use Facebook messenger. That's the difference.... Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 11:53

(In social media and the internet)

For facebook: Follow is a subset of Friend.

When you add someone as a Friend, you automatically follow that person, and they automatically follow you (under the assumption the friend request was accepted).

Most social websites, offer a service titled Follow. This means exactly what it says—you will subscribe to updates from that person you follow.

The buzzwords used here denote the type of relationship you can or have established with another person in the digital world. Their origins: Real Life.

Other paradigms I've heard of...

Groups—Collectively refer to a group of friends or followers.

Connection—This is used by LinkedIn to connect you to people you might know, have worked with etc.

Guild or Clan—Popularly used in video games to collectively refer to a group of people. Also see. Guild Member, Clan Member, Guild Leader, Clan Leader.

Community—Collection of Friends, Groups, Connections, Guilds/Clans sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common. Also see. Community Member, Community Moderator, Community Administrator.

  • Arguably, Friend is actually a specialisation of Follower - A Friend is a Follower with extra privilages. I don't like the use of quotation blocks here. Where is this information coming from?
    – Gusdor
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 11:40
  • Facebook documentation.
    – Rayraegah
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 12:41
  • @Rayraegah: if you copy and pasted some text, you should use quotation blocks and add a link to the source. Without these it seems that you wrote the above text. Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 15:08
  • I did not copy paste. I wrote my own. The information is from my head and the origin is Facebook documentation. The context is my own. Also if you look at the edit history you would have noticed it was quoted and then unquoted.
    – Rayraegah
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 20:57

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