I've come up with these options:

  • Friends On Network (searched, this is not used very common)
  • Friends Online (I think it's ambiguous, it can also mean the friends that are not offline but they're currently using the internet)

I think these are all inaccurate. How do native English speakers express that?

  • 3
    I don't think we have a very precise way to express this in English. "Internet friends" is probably what I would say.
    – stangdon
    Jul 20, 2018 at 16:41
  • 3
    In context, my online friends or an online acquaintance would not be misconstrued by a native speaker; it would not be thought to mean "who is|are online at this moment". The ambiguity you are concerned about occurs only when the phrase is lifted out of context.
    – TimR
    Jul 20, 2018 at 16:50

1 Answer 1


While online friends is pretty popular, you can also use internet friends to avoid ambiguity.

I might not have real friends in my life, but I have many internet friends.

A variation could be friends on the Internet

Another option is virtual friends vs real friends.

  • 2
    "Facebook friends" is also reasonably common & in the right hands, quite derogatory ;) Jul 20, 2018 at 16:48
  • 2
    I feel a distinct connection to my ELL friends, some of whom I almost know by name. :)
    – Andrew
    Jul 20, 2018 at 17:46

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