Of course, there are exceptions. Consider for example the special cases of family and exes—that is, past lovers, spouses, and family members. Once you friend someone and she or he accepts your friendship on Facebook, you are connected to her Facebook page and see her daily news and updates. This works for many relationships but not all. The first time I heard about a Facebook relationship issue was with teenagers and their parents. One woman told me that her daughter would not accept her friend request. The daughter had her reasons no doubt; she wanted to talk to her friends in privacy. This became an issue for the mother and daughter, but the mother eventually came to understand, and the daughter did eventually accept her mother as a friend. The mother posted the news on her Facebook page, saying “My daughter finally accepted my friend request today!” That post was funny of course, but it also illustrates how Facebook users make an effort to control who sees their pages and who does not.
I have a relative who is a teenager and attends public school in New York City. He’s on Facebook, and of course so are all his friends. He accepted my friend request, so I’m able to see how he uses Facebook and communicates with his classmates. Looking at a page like his gives you a clear sense of what tools on Facebook are used most often. There are video chats with friends, abbreviations for everything you can imagine, and quite a bit of cursing and off-the-cuff comments. Because his page feels very informal and he seems to say whatever he wants, there is even more reason for him to screen friends, in case he doesn’t want an ex-girlfriend or someone else to see the page.
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