An appeals court in Florida ruled earlier this fall that a Miami judge won’t be forced to recuse herself because she is a Facebook “friend” with an attorney in one of her cases. The 10-page ruling established that not all Facebook friendships are close relationships.

So does that mean Facebook is full of “fake friends?” In a way, yes, as Third District Court of Appeal Judge Thomas Logue argued that Facebook connections are often based on predictive algorithms and data-mining technology, and not necessarily personal interactions.

The Florida legal issue came up when a law firm suing a company for breach of contract insisted that a judge’s virtual friendship with the defense attorney could result in an unfair verdict.

The appellate court said that a “Facebook friendship does not necessarily signify the existence of a close relationship,” noting that some people have “friend” counts in the thousands. Logue also said “Facebook members often cannot recall every person they have accepted as ‘friends’ or who have accepted them as ‘friends.’”

This incident didn’t get as much attention as the problem about the authenticity of news on Facebook. Officials from Facebook were called before Congress recently because of concern that fake news driven by Russian-linked operatives on the site had an impact on voting in the 2016 election.

Although Facebook officials have since vowed to fight fake news, there are plenty of difficulties. For one thing, the news process is much like the friendship process in which Facebook friends are made by the simple click of a mouse rather than personal interaction that results in actual friendship.

News stories posted on Facebook are also done by the click of a mouse outside any human interaction, or even review, before being published. In contrast to newspapers, which have human editors who make decisions, Facebook is wide open where anything goes without any type of vetting, which, in the worst cases, leads to hoax stories designed to influence people.

Facebook has promised Congress it will try to resolve the problem, but the company is ill-equipped to do so. For one thing, it is populated by engineers who can spot faulty algorithms, not editors who can spot faulty news sources.

So if friendships and news stories on Facebook aren’t necessarily legitimate, why is the social network so popular that it has more than 2 billion users across the globe?

Founding president Sean Parker, who left Facebook shortly after it took off and now heads a foundation he started, has an answer. In a recent talk, he said the founders of Facebook purposely made it addictive by exploiting “a vulnerability in human psychology.”

He claims that when Facebook was being developed, the objective was to “consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible.” It’s a “social validation feedback loop” that includes features such as the “like” button, which gives users “a little dopamine hit” to encourage them to upload more content.

“It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other. It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” said Parker.

Those are concerning views, especially coming from someone who has been on the inside of the Facebook experience.

Still, Facebook isn’t going away. Its numbers are trending upward, not downward. Even people who have worries about the ramifications of a Facebook universe aren’t likely to leave. This column is published in a newspaper that has a presence on Facebook and has employees that frequent Facebook, something that likely won’t change.

The social network may seem like just harmless fun, but it is important to remember that we are all novices in this virtual world where reality is a vague quality. Before your mind wanders back to scanning to Facebook feeds, think about Parker’s claims that it is changing our relationships to society and each other — and perhaps fundamentally altering the brains of our children.

After all, Facebook friends may not be real friends, as the court found. Facebook news may not be real news, as Russian operatives know. And, choosing to hit that “like” button may not actually be a conscious decision of free will, as the founding president warned.