He wasn't all that taken with my suggestion that "contacts" (which has of course already been bagged by Microsoft) was a better term than "friend" for these weird online inter-relationships, often with people we've never met.
Yesterday at a meeting, I met one of my Facebook "friends" I've never seen f2f before. We were favorably disposed, inclined to approve, help, or support, not hostile or at variance, amicable, but not friendly in the social sense.
So we are more than contacts, but less then friends. We share social capital (Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook "friends:" Social capital and college students' use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12, 4).
But what should I call them? In this TLA world, I'm leaning towards RLFs (pronounced ralfs) and FBs (pronounced eff bees).