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When to Delete People off Your Facebook Friend List

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

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When to Delete Someone off Your Friend List

In most cases, you don’t need to delete someone off your friend list. This guide is here to help you to decide when to delete a friend, when things are salvageable, and what other tools you have on Facebook that might be more appropriate. I encourage you to think things through before hitting the delete button; don’t make this move by impulse. There are some other methods you can employ for damage control.

The first step is to slow down and think things through. Make a pros and cons list to help guide your decision. You can always add someone back if things change, but you can cause more drama than necessary if you’re constantly cutting off contacts from your list.

Important: When you delete someone, it 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. Severing your online tie with someone will change in-person interactions.

Facebook Friend Management Tools

Below I’ve listed several tools you have at your disposal that are more sneaky than straight-up deleting someone. Use the right tools to accommodate your situation.

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. Maybe they just keep writing things that get under your skin. You might like them in person, but their social media habits are juvenile.

You might be getting annoyed with this contact. 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 out of sight for another 30 days. There is no way for them to know you’re doing this.

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. (I admittedly reach more for the snooze button during election cycles.)

Adjust Privacy Settings for Statuses and Pictures

Before you delete someone, ask yourself whether they’re bothering you or if you want them to have less access to your data. Ultimately, you should be careful about what you post online and keep it fairly limited, toned down, clean, and professional. Anything can come back to haunt you.

Facebook is where anybody and everybody can get to know you: it isn’t as streamlined as Linkedin (work), Reddit (niche interests), Instagram (picture storytelling), or TikTok (entertainment). 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 (I don’t recommend this; it’s unsafe.)
  • You can limit statuses to your list of friends
  • 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 posted and what have been your privacy settings. 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. Data thieves are everywhere and are looking for this stuff — they want answers to security questions.

Pro tip: Take your birthday off Facebook. You don’t need everyone and their dog wishing you a happy birthday every year. It’s not fun to wish every single person happy birthday either; this is a chore with little if any social improvement.

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 a while.

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.

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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 issues you may have, maybe try talking to them. Strike up a conversation to see how they’re doing; perhaps you’re reading things the wrong way.

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? If it’s someone you don’t know very well, sure… delete them. If it’s your grandma and she’s just super excited about politics and baking, don’t delete her.

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 yourself and that other person from unwanted drama.

Don’t make a mountain out of a hill. Just because someone rubs you the wrong way doesn’t mean that they don’t offer something important to you. This person could come up in your life again or be a good reference for something. There is no telling where this person might go in the future, perhaps you do want to keep an eye on them.

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, or 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, like harassment or spam, report it.

People don’t necessarily know what are your expectations for communicating and developing a social network. If you ominously delete them without any real trigger it can make you look bad.

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.

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 that could make a difference in your career.

Deleting people off social media makes for very uncomfortable and awkward encounters in real life. People might be cordial with you because they’re professional, but they might also be aloof and shrug you off.

Remember: When you delete someone off social media, you won’t be able to monitor their activity. If they decide to write crazy things about you or your loved ones, you won’t know.

Scenarios for Deleting Friends

Below I’ve listed some of the top scenarios that cause people to delete contacts off their social media. I’ll give you my tips on how to interpret and navigate these situations.

I Don’t Know This Person

The number one reason to delete someone off your Facebook friend list is that you don’t know them. You have no clue how you met this friend, and the name doesn’t ring a bell. Give yourself a moment to go through your brain and try to think of how you may have met. Check the friendship history to see how long you’ve known each other.

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 with other people unless you like adding strangers and people you meet online, which is risky. Do you do a lot of online dating? You may have some people on your list who you only met up with once.

If you’re not sure how you met the person, and you’re scratching your head to figure it out, try looking at their profile. See if they have interests that line up with yours. Read their statuses and see if it offers anything of value to you.

If you still can’t make heads or tails on this person: that’s likely a sign that you can dump them. They’re not adding value into your day, they don’t have a real connection to you, and you’ve forgotten who they are.

You don’t even need to worry about running into them. This person on your Facebook list has likely forgotten about you too.

People Who Spread Lies, Misinformation, or Conspiracy Theories

There could be some value to having these people on your friend list — for one, their activity could one day be something you need to report to police.

If someone is constantly posting lies and misinformation, then they’re showing that they’re not a reliable or trustworthy person. They may try to scope out information on you and use it in a malicious way. If there are people on your friend list who seem more like a scam than a genuine connection — that is a surefire reason to dump them.

Examples of odd content:

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

A Recent Ex

It’s common practice that when you break up 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. (Granted, I would encourage the snooze or unfollow option for this in most cases.)

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 and can give yourself space to recalibrate.

If the breakup was seriously bad they should be upgraded to a block. We’ll get into blocking later in the article.

People Who Bully You

If someone is going around saying garbage about you, then don’t put up with them. If they’re bringing up 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 mean-spirited, skip the candor talk and just dump them. Don’t let people cyberbully you. 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. Make sure they change their interactions from there.
  • 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 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? Or are they a Prince from Nigeria promising to whisk you off and free you from debt?

If they don’t seem like someone who really 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. If people have positive vibes and they’re funny, I tend to keep them longer than people that seem rude.

People with Criminal Histories

If you stay on Facebook long enough, especially if you opened your account when you were 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 their time behind bars.

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. People who are just trying to figure things out and get into a career may make the mistake of getting involved in a pyramid scheme.

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 or unfollow button.

The pyramid scheming person is aggressive, they target people to join their cult, and most of the time it’s a money sinker.

Cost of Deleting People 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.

Should I Delete 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, wedding, or funeral.
  • Your nuclear family is a big no-no. Only delete if it really is necessary.
  • 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 while you’re left out of plans and fun things.

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 change with the seasons and people’s views change.

Your dad may have broken up with your mom for some other woman. You can be upset by all the craziness. Just keep in mind, the way this situation looks 15 years from now could be really different.

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 friends are the ones who won’t be invited 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 to 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

I’m not going to say what are my religious views. I do have a ton of people on my list that are Christian or active in church communities. Since this is a large group, it’s expected that there will be a lot of them that hit the delete button. However, getting a delete from a pastor is pretty indicative that this group can be particular about the kinds of people they want to interact with.

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 people.

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 tell whether you should delete someone off Facebook is if you would also block them.

Blocking

When you block someone, they’ll no longer be able to find you on Facebook. If they search for you, they can’t find you.

You’ve forbidden them from seeing you, and you also won’t be able to find them. 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 be available to you.

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
  • Bad ex-partners
  • People who are snooping on you like a predator
  • Someone who has stolen your stuff
  • People who have damaged your property
  • Bullies
  • Harassers
  • People who have done some type of injustice to a friend
  • Racists and the like
  • 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, or 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 other users — but you shouldn’t feel constantly threatened. You shouldn’t feel like you have to compromise who you are.

Blocking should occur in less than 1% of your social media interactions.

Meditate Before Deleting

Think carefully about what you’re doing and what it will mean for the future before you delete someone. I recommend doing the following before you cut someone out of your life:

  1. Meditate on it. Consider the loss or gain of cutting the person out of your life.
  2. Give it time. Give it a week: see if you feel different. Give it a month: see if you feel different.
  3. Ask someone who is familiar with the situation for a second opinion.
  4. Ask for a third opinion.
  5. Consider whether you’ll run into this person in real life or not.
  6. Picture what would be the best outcome if you did run into this person AFTER you deleted them off Facebook.
  7. Don’t break up with people by using the delete button. Break up with them in person.
  8. Don’t delete current roommates to try and give them a hint.
  9. Are you deleting someone as a form of conflict avoidance? Can you reach out to this person and start up some kind of conversation?
  10. Don’t be passive-aggressive. It doesn’t yield net positives for you.
  11. People can’t read your mind. Most likely when you delete someone randomly they don’t know why.
  12. We can’t always evaluate our friendships correctly. Someone you’re considering deleting might actually have a higher opinion of you than you think.
  13. 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 what they did that upset you. You may cause them unnecessary stress. There is a good chance that they could take it personally.

When you admit to them your disapproval, you will most likely not rank as high in their opinions. 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 misinterpreted 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 friend request and pretend the deleting 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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