FOAF, which stands for Friend of a Friend, is a decentralized ontology and an XML-based file format used to describe social networks, primarily focusing on people and their relationships. The aim is to represent information about people, their friends, and their interests in a machine-readable format. This allows for easy sharing and interlinking of personal data across various applications and platforms.


The phonetics of the keyword “FOAF” can be represented as: /foʊf/F – /f/ (like in “fish”)O – /oʊ/ (like in “hope”)A – /æ/ (like in “cat”)F – /f/ (like in “fish”)Please note that “FOAF” could also be an acronym for “Friend Of A Friend,” in which case each individual letter is pronounced: F – /ɛf/O – /oʊ/A – /eɪ/F – /ɛf/

Key Takeaways

  1. FOAF (Friend of a Friend) is an RDF-based vocabulary for describing people, relationships, and activities, enabling social networking across the web.
  2. FOAF makes it easy to link together personal profiles and information, allowing search engines, social networks, and other applications to easily recognize and merge related data.
  3. By using FOAF in profiles and websites, it provides a decentralized approach to social networking, promoting better control over personal data and fostering a more open web community.


FOAF, which stands for “Friend of a Friend,” is an important technology term because it refers to a unique type of metadata used to create machine-readable representations of human relationships, social networks, and personal information.

This technology, usually expressed using the Resource Description Framework (RDF), allows computers to better understand, analyze, and visualize relationships and interactions between individuals, groups, and organizations in digital spaces.

As a result, FOAF benefits various web-based applications and services, including social networking platforms, search engines, and recommendation systems, fostering interoperability, data reusability, and more personalized user experiences in the interconnected digital world.


FOAF (Friend of a Friend) is an innovative technology designed with the primary purpose of connecting individuals and fostering relationships in the online world. It not only streamlines the sharing of personal information such as likes, dislikes, hobbies, and acquaintances but also builds a robust and extensive social network.

By creating machine-readable and semantically enriched profiles in RDF (Resource Description Framework) format, FOAF allows users to share information about their relationships with other people and aid in effective information exchange. The true potential of FOAF lies in its ability to establish a web of relationships by sharing information across various platforms in a decentralized manner, promoting a sense of online trust, and facilitating better collaboration among internet users.

As a user-centric technology, FOAF plays a key role in uncovering common interests and offering tailored recommendations for various online services. For instance, it helps users find like-minded individuals in social media platforms, enables better-targeted advertising based on detailed user profiles, and aids in the development of personalized applications.

Overall, FOAF significantly contributes to enriching the user experience in the digital world and enhances the overall functionality of the internet by encouraging social connection and information sharing.

Examples of FOAF

FOAF (Friend of a Friend) is a technology used to create machine-readable descriptions of people, groups, and the relationships between them using the RDF (Resource Description Framework) and XML languages. It enables the sharing and integration of social network data across different platforms.

**Social Networking Websites**: FOAF is used by social networking websites such as LiveJournal, Advogato, and Ecademy to allow users to create and exchange personal profiles for social networking purposes. These platforms enable users to define relationships with other users, forming a web of interconnected people and their interests.

**Semantic Web Research**: FOAF has formed an integral part of research studies related to the Semantic Web and linked data initiatives. Various projects, such as FOAF-a-Matic, showcase the use of FOAF to create an RDF-based description of a person’s details, interests, and connections on their personal web pages. This helps create a more interconnected web, enabling enhanced access to information about individuals and their networks.

**Collaborative Tools**: Many collaborative tools, such as the Swirrl data platform, make use of FOAF for managing data and constructing applications. Users can create shared datasets, with FOAF providing a standardized way of defining relationships between people and resources. This enables a more seamless and effective collaboration experience among users, especially when dealing with datasets that involve human interactions and social connections.

FOAF Frequently Asked Questions

What is FOAF?

FOAF, which stands for Friend of a Friend, is a machine-readable ontology describing people, their relationships, and their activities. It is used to express personal profiles and social networks in a way that computers can understand, enabling the interlinking of data and facilitating smarter searches and more accurate recommendations.

How is FOAF used in the Semantic Web?

FOAF is a fundamental building block of the Semantic Web. It allows users to create machine-readable profiles with information about their interests, networks, and other relevant data. By linking these profiles together, the Semantic Web can better understand how individuals are connected to one another, enabling more sophisticated search capabilities and personalized recommendations.

What is the primary language used to create FOAF documents?

Resource Description Framework (RDF) is the primary language used to create FOAF documents. RDF is a standardized format for describing and exchanging metadata on the Web. In the context of FOAF, RDF provides a framework for defining the properties and relationships that make up the FOAF vocabulary.

How can I create my own FOAF profile?

To create your own FOAF profile, you will need to write an RDF document that describes information about you, your interests, and your relationships with others. There are various tools available to help you create a profile, such as FOAF-a-Matic, an online form that generates your FOAF profile, or writing a simple RDF/XML document from scratch.

What are the benefits of using FOAF for online social networking?

There are several benefits of using FOAF for online social networking, including data portability, interoperability, and the potential for more intelligent applications. By capturing data in a structured format, FOAF profiles can be easily exchanged and understood by different platforms, applications, and services. This enables users to maintain a single, unified profile across multiple networks and platforms, simplifying the management of their online identities and allowing them to interact with a broader range of people and communities.

Related Technology Terms

  • RDF (Resource Description Framework)
  • Linked Data
  • OWL (Web Ontology Language)
  • Semantic Web
  • SPARQL (SPARQL Protocol and RDF Query Language)

Sources for More Information


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