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When to Delete Someone off Facebook

Andrea has been an online writer for 8+ years. She mostly writes about dating, couples, weddings, travel, interior design, and gardening.


Deleting Friends and Connections

In most cases, you don't really need to 100% delete someone off Facebook. This guide is here to help you decide when to delete a friend, when things are salvageable, and what other tools you have on Facebook that might be more appropriate.

You're making the first right step by slowing down and thinking before you hit that delete button. There are a few things to consider before you commit to cutting someone out of your life. (Granted, if you delete someone you can always add them back later. We have varied reasons why delete.)

Keep in mind: when you delete someone on Facebook this is a noticeable move for the other party to see your disapproval, dislike, or disassociation of them. You may not want to reveal your card to them, so there are more subtle moves you can make.

Facebook Friend Management Tools

Snooze Button: the first item you should look at before you delete someone is whether you can snooze them for a little while. Maybe your friend is going through a manic phase, and they're going overboard posting stuff.

You might be getting annoyed with this friend. You can hit the snooze button and not see their statuses for 30 days. There is no limit to this button. If the 30 day period is up, and they're still a little too much for you, hit that snooze button again and keep them on the down low for another 30 days.

The snooze button is great during a really politically tense time, during finals when you don't need distractions, or if you just broke up with someone and you need some space.

Adjust privacy settings for statuses and pictures: before you delete someone ask yourself whether they're bothering you or if you just don't want them to have as much access to your data. Ultimately, you should be careful about what you post online and keep it fairly limited, toned done, clean, and professional.

Facebook is where anybody and everybody can get to know you: it isn't as streamlined as Linkedin, Reddit, Instagram, or TikTok. Facebook is for all connections, so it can get muddy.

You can customize settings on Facebook so that not everybody on your friend list sees what you're doing.

  • You can make it public to everyone on the web
  • You can limit it to your friends list
  • You can limit it to a select group of friends
  • You can even post stuff just for yourself

I recommend about every 6 months to a year to go through your Facebook profile and see what you have on the public setting. Tidy up your social media. Marie Kondo your data!

You don't necessarily need to make everything public about yourself including: where you live, your birthday, your religious views, your political views, your relationship, etc. It's okay to be protective and private with your information.

Unfollow: this is the advanced form of the snooze button. If your friend can't stop posting innate things that annoy you, you may want to unfollow them for awhile.

You can still be friends with them, you can still look up their profile and see how they're doing, but you won't be bombarded by their posts.

This is also a good option if you're going through a tense time with a friend or you just broke up. This can also give you some control and help you change the traffic of your newsfeed.

Sometimes you just don't align with someone's views, and their social media rubs you the wrong way. However, you do like this person, and they're great in person. Some people just don't have a great social media presence. Some people take time to mature online.

Message them: this route is the more candor way of handling things. Maybe there was a disagreement or misconception. Instead of deleting them and ignoring the issue you may have, maybe try talking to them. Maybe strike up a conversation to see how they're doing. Maybe the two of you have just lost touch with each other.

Message them and see if there is still some kind of connection. Try to remember why you added this person in the first place. Try to keep things amicable. Don't harass them -- that will end with you getting blocked.

Ignore them: is this person really so bad that you have to delete them and you can't just plainly ignore them? Why are you letting them bother you so much?

Remember: often times when you have a problem with someone YOU are the problem. If you can simply ignore someone who is bothering you rather than making a fuss about it, then you might save you and that other person some drama.

Don't make a mountain out of a hill.

Lower your expectations: maybe you have too high of expectations on what it means to have social media friendships. Perhaps you want them to communicate more with you, maybe you want them to display content a certain way, maybe you're becoming too strict and particular.

You can't control the way someone uses social media. You can only control your response to it. If you think someone is using social media incorrectly: report it.

You might be an immature person if you have an addiction to deleting people off social media.

You might be an immature person if you have an addiction to deleting people off social media.

People don't always start on the right foot: there are plenty of friends who started out on the wrong foot. With time, sometimes you become a lot closer to someone. Give people a chance.

Tightening Your Facebook Friend List

When you've decided it is time to tighten up your friend list, you'll want to be careful and particular. You don't want to accidentally delete someone who could be of value. Someone could be useful to you later down the road: maybe they studied the same thing as you, and they have connections.

You could make for some painful and seriously awkward situations if you delete someone.

Remember: when you delete someone you may no longer be able to monitor their activity. You'll be cutting off access to something that could be important down the road.

Scenarios for Deleting Friends

I don't know this person: the #1 reason to delete someone on Facebook is because you have no clue who is that person. Give yourself a moment to go through your brain and try to think of how you may have met.

Do you have any mutual friends? If you have no mutual friends then that means you have a low connectivity score with them. Generally, you're going to add people you know that you've met and in groups. There should be some overlap, unless you like adding strangers and people you meet online, which is risky. Do you do a lot of dating? You may have some one-time meeting people in there.

If you're not sure how you met the person, and you're scratching your brain over it, try looking at their profile. See if they have interests that line up with your own. Read their statuses and see if it offers anything of value for you.

If you still can't make heads or tails of who is this person: that's likely a sign that you can dump them. They're not adding value for you, they don't have a real connection to you, you've forgotten who they are.

People who spread lies / misinformation / conspiracy theories: there could be some value to having these people on your friend list: you could one day need to report them to the police.

If someone is constantly posting lies and misinformation, then they're showing that they're not really a reliable person. They may try to scope out information on you and use it in a malicious way. If the people on your friend list seem more like a scam than a genuine connection -- that is a surefire way to get dumped.

Examples of odd content:

  • Only posts in memes
  • Fake news
  • Posts that Facebook has to put a disclaimer on it for possible fake news
  • Conspiracy theories
  • Outright lies
  • Bullying people

A recent ex: it's common practice that when you breakup with someone you limit your social media interactions with them. You may want to tell them that you're going to delete them off Facebook for a little bit until the pain has subsided.

I say recent ex because if you've had an ex for a long time on Facebook then surely you have mentally and emotionally recovered since the breakup. It's good to cut someone off social media for about 30-45 days after a breakup that way you don't focus on them so much.

If the breakup was seriously bad they should be upgraded to a block.

People who bully you: if someone is going around saying garbage about you then don't put up with them. If they're bringing back painful high school memories, if they're making fun of the way you look, or if they have any kind of malicious behavior -- kick them to the curb. They don't deserve more access to your information.

You may want to send them a message and ask, "Hey, what's up with the way you're talking about me?" If they just seem malicious skip the candor talk and just dump them. You don't need to get online and be cyber bullied. Real friends don't do that. Real friends want to have a good connection with you.

  • If the bully apologizes and is sincere then slow down on deleting them.
  • If they ever come back to you with an apology in the future, you may consider adding them back.

Someone you've never met: you may have added someone excitedly because of something online, or maybe you thought you were going to meet the person in person eventually.

I've added people like this and sometimes they end up being great connections. Other times... they're suspicious. Again, check to see if you have mutual friends. Do they live in the same country? Are they age appropriate? Do you have common interests?

If they don't seem like someone who realistically should be in your social circle, then you probably don't need them on Facebook. You need to properly vet people before you add them.

People you added while drunk: if you were under the influence of something and you added people that you don't really know, then you should probably delete them unless they're adding some value to your page.

People with criminal histories: if you stay on Facebook long enough, especially if you started on Facebook in high school, you may have added someone who grew up to be one of the bad guys. You don't need to stay friends with someone who is spending a good chunk of time behind bars for something nefarious.

Sketchy activity = don't connect.

They ask you to join a pyramid scheme MULTIPLE times: look, I can understand the friend who joins a makeup or beauty regiment one time and then tries to make something off it through social media. You can cut this person some slack.

It's the person who keeps joining these things and routinely targets their friend list that is suspicious. This person may do better on the snooze button or unfollow button.

Cost of Deleting Someone off Facebook

When it comes to deleting people off Facebook, you have to recognize that this is a strong attack move. You're sending the other person a strong message that you no longer wish to connect.

Family: I don't recommend deleting family members unless there is something egregious happening.

  • There is a good chance you'll see this person again.
  • Maybe you'll see them at a family reunion.
  • Your nuclear family is a big no-no.
  • You can unfollow them.
  • You can put them on a private list, so they don't see your status updates.

Think of it this way: if you delete your grandparents or parents you could get cut out of the will. You might find that other family members get special treatment.

Of course people have feuds with their family. Not everyone can be cordial. But try to repair those relations the best you can. Think twice about deleting a family member because it could have long term consequences. Don't cut them off over political reasons: politics changes with the seasons, people's views change.

You have a lot of mutual friends in common: if you have a lot of mutual friends in common, then your feud could become public knowledge. You will likely run into this person again -- and because you deleted them it could be awkward. If they're a decent person, they'll try to make the social interaction cordial.

If you start deleting people who have a lot of mutual friends with you, then you could be creating divides in your friend groups. Often the people who keep deleting people are the ones who won't be invited as much to outings. Think before you delete.

Bosses, employees, co-workers: your boss is spying on you. Your past boss is probably spying on you too. I would argue it would be smarter to build lists and be organized -- make things private so your boss and co-workers don't know what's going on.

Make 2 Facebook profiles, one that is professional... and one where you cut loose.

You don't want to make things awkward and aggressive with co-workers. If you delete people who work in close proximity with you then you could be encouraging a hostile work environment. That's the trouble when you start deleting people: you could be encouraging hostility.

Someone with different religious views: the #1 group of people who delete me off Facebook are Christians -- the group that proclaims people will know them by their love.

Christians are really bad about being judgmental. If they don't think you're aligning with their views, they might cut you off their list.

Granted, I'm Christian. I've had many friends who were Christian. Such a big percentage of people is bound to end up having a high delete rate toward me. But here's the thing -- when you delete someone you're going to get categorized into a group of people who delete people. You might not like being part of the group that deletes someone.

Christians need to slow their roll. They need to stop telling people how to use social media. They need to stop being so punishment oriented. Christians need to practice the golden rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Facebook isn't the best place for professing beliefs. Save scripture for personal meditation and when you're with fellow believers in person. People don't like to be slapped in the face with a Bible or other holy book.

Just because someone thinks differently than you doesn't mean you should delete them: that's the cornerstone of bigotry.

Before you delete someone off your Facebook, consider your social network. Analyze your connections. Think twice before you delete. Don't delete on impulse.

Before you delete someone off your Facebook, consider your social network. Analyze your connections. Think twice before you delete. Don't delete on impulse.

When to Block Someone

The best test to see whether you would delete someone is if you would also block them.

Blocking: this goes beyond deleting someone -- they can no longer find you on Facebook at all. You've been forbidden from seeing a profile. The person also won't show up in other people's statuses and in other places. All pictures they posted of you will no longer show.

If you are willing to block someone, then you definitely are in the right to delete them. What people should you block? This is someone who has seriously wronged you:

  • Horrible roommates who didn't respect your privacy
  • Really bad ex-partners
  • People you would put on a restraining order in real life
  • People who are snooping on you in a predator way
  • Someone who outright has gone out of their way to steal your stuff
  • People who have damaged your property
  • Bullies
  • Harassers
  • People who have made you feel threatened
  • People who have tried to control and or manipulate you
  • People who have done some type of injustice to a friend
  • Racists and white supremacists
  • Former employers who made your life a living hell

Blocking shouldn't be a commonplace tactic. It is the last resort. You're basically telling the other person: "I'm putting up a wall, and you cannot cross this boundary."

You block someone because you don't trust them, because they did something mean to you, because you feel like they're trying to take advantage of you.

You shouldn't block often because you shouldn't have a long list of enemies on social media. For the most part, you should get along with people. You may get annoyed by people -- but you shouldn't feel threatened. You shouldn't feel like you have to compromise yourself.

Meditate before You Delete

Deleting someone shouldn't be something you do on an impulse. It should be something you think about carefully and with intention. Before you delete someone do the following:

  • Meditate on it. Consider the loss or gain it could do for your life.
  • Give it time. Give it a week: see if you feel different. Give it a month: see if you feel different.
  • Ask someone who is familiar with the situation for a second opinion.
  • Ask for a third opinion.
  • Consider whether you'll run into this person in real life or not.
  • Picture what would be the best outcome if you did run into this person AFTER you deleted them off Facebook.
  • Don't breakup with people by using the delete button. Breakup with them in person.
  • Don't delete current roommates and try to give them a hint.
  • Are you deleting someone as a form of conflict avoidance? Can you reach out to this person and start up some kind of conversation?
  • Don't be passive-aggressive.
  • People can't read your mind. Most likely when you delete someone randomly they don't know why.
  • We can't always evaluate our friendships correctly. Someone you're considering deleting might actually have a higher opinion of you than you think.
  • Are you actually the malicious person in this situation?

How Will a Deleted Person Think of This Interaction?

Mark my words, when you delete someone who actually cares about you, they'll eventually find out. They most likely won't approach you about it at all. They may ignore you. You may have hurt their feelings.

They could go through all their memories of you and wonder why or what they did that upset you. You may cause them unnecessary stress. There is a good chance they could take it personally.

When you admit to them your disapproval, you will most likely not rank as highly in their minds either. They may change their mind about you. They may recognize that the friendship they had with you is gone or was fake. The person deleted may ask when the shift happened. They may worry that there was a misconception. Maybe you read too much into a status.

The deleted person may ask mutual friends what is up. They may gain those friends' sympathy. The deleted friend could end up getting more support from your mutual friends than you. They may no longer want to serve you or care about you if they run into you in a business sense.

Sometimes people can brush this off easily. They may send you another Facebook request and pretend it never happened -- they'll still likely remember though. They may send you a message and ask for an answer.

The deleted person could write you an apology and beg for forgiveness. They may try to bargain with you. They may hold a grudge against you. They may feel like you were trying to manipulate the connection -- they may as a result find you sketchy or unreliable.

They may think you're really full of yourself and have a big ego.

Don't put yourself in the position of being a sketchy or unreliable person. Be charismatic. Be careful about your social connections. Think twice before you uproot a connection. It might not be in your favor to delete them. You might be robbing your social currency.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Andrea Lawrence

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