Choosing To Friend or Unfriend on Facebook

If you’re like me and you use your personal profile to make connections on Facebook, then you may find yourself at a point where your quickly approaching the 5,000 friend limit and need to be more selective about who you choose to friend. Or you may simply find that you have too many friends to deal with and want to start eliminating them, one by one. For those in these situations, I’d like to share my friending and unfriending criteria on Facebook.

Friend Requests: Choosing Confirm or Not Now

If you start by being more selective about who you add as a friend in the first place, you won’t likely find yourself in the position of needing to unfriend hundreds, or possibly thousands of people later down the road. Back when I thought everything was a numbers game, I went the route of accepting anyone and everyone to my friend’s list, which has led me to having over 3,000 friends.

So now, when I get a new friend request, I go through the following “checks” before hitting the Confirm button. Consider this your guide to if I will friend you on Facebook or not and how to make it more likely that you will get accepted by others.

1. Do I know you?

While I wasn’t particularly mindful of whether I know someone while playing the numbers game, I am more aware of adding people based on whether I recognize their name or not. Therefore, if I haven’t:

  • Met you in person.
  • Seen your name in my blog comments.
  • Interacted with you on other social platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn.
  • Commented on your blog.

Then chances are, I will be looking at the next factors when determining whether to accept your friend request or not. This is why it’s good to have a Facebook profile image that would somewhat match your Gravatar, Twitter profile pic, etc.

2. Is there a personalized message?

Probably the biggest determining factor of whether I will accept your friend request (assuming I don’t already know you) is whether there is a personal message that goes with your request. It’s easy to do. When you hit the “Add as Friend” button, you will see the little link for “Add a personal message…”

Adding a Personal Message to Facebook Friend Request

Just click on that link and add a simple note on why you want to add me such as “Hi, I’m ___ from I enjoy reading your blog and am hoping to connect to more bloggers on Facebook.” Simple as that!

Also, for your own benefit, be sure to use the “Add to List” feature when requesting someone as a friend to help you later on if you need to decide who to friend or unfriend. (This also goes for when you’re accepting a friend request – put them in lists for better organization!)

Think about it – if you are into a particular topic right now and you friend a bunch of people based on that interest, just add them to a specific list. This way you can customize privacy settings based on what you would like people in that list to see, and if a year from now you’re not interested in connecting with people about that subject, you can just go to that list and unfriend them.

3. Is there something on your profile that will help me identify you?

If I have a bit of time on my hands, I might go scoping out your profile to see if there’s a common connection between us that would make me want to friend you. The area I often go to is the Info tab to see if I recognize your website name. So if you have this private (along with your photo and everything else on your profile), then, without a message, how am I supposed to know if I know you or want to be friends with you?

Other Considerations

Some other factors that affect my decision to add you as a friend include whether or not you speak English and if your picture is that of a celebrity and you are, in fact, not that celebrity. Also, I am immediately suspicious of all super hot chicks as usually those are a sign of fake spammer profiles. Playboy bunnies and I generally don’t have enough in common for them to find and friend me.

So now that you know why I would friend you (or not), let’s look at some reasons why I would unfriend you and how I go about that.

The Art of Unfriending

Unfriending on Facebook can be a bit of a time consuming activity as you have to go to the person’s profile and scroll down past their friend’s list in the left sidebar to find and unclick the Unfriend link.

Unfriending on Facebook

So what will make me (and probably others) unfriend you? Here’s a list of some, but not all, items that could put you on the unfriending chopping block.

1. You added me to a group I have no interest in.

This is kind of Facebook’s fault as they were the geniuses that thought it would be a good idea to let other people add you to groups unmercifully at will without letting people have a setting that says “Don’t let other people add me to groups.” That and they apparently took out the “Invite to Group” option as well, because it is really more polite to invite someone to opt-in instead of making them have to opt-out.

Now I can see the idea behind the fact that people know I’m interested in blogging and social media, hence it’s not that far of a stretch that people would add me to a related group. So in the event that I can kind of tell why someone would have thought this was a good idea, I let it slide and just quietly leave the group because I really don’t have time to keep up with them anyway. And if I know you, chances are you probably meant well, so I wouldn’t unfriend you for meaning well.

But if I don’t know you well, and you add me to a group that I would have no logical interest in (like recently one about insurance), then chances are I’m going to unfriend you AND leave your group as soon as I see notification you just added me to one. Best way to go is to send me a friendly message saying “Hey, I just created this group on ___ – would you like to join?” Yes, that’s probably a huge time commitment, but would it be worth it to save a friend?

If you’re in the boat of having been added to groups and now wanting to clear your plate of both the groups and the people who added you to them, what you will want to do is go to your Facebook’s Home page and look at the left side to see your groups.

Facebook Groups in the Sidebar

Click the More link and then the See All link. This will take you to all of the groups you have recently joined or someone has recently added you to. Then click on a group name that you don’t want to be a part of anymore. If it’s one that someone added you to, and it’s relatively new, you can scroll through down through the groups updates to find where someone has added a mass number of friends to their group.

Added Members to Facebook Group

As you can see, it will tell you who added people to the group. If you come across several different blocks and can’t figure out who did it, it’s not a bad idea to open up each of the profiles of people who added others to the group to see which one you are friends with as they are the prime suspect. Now, you can leave the group and unfriend the person who got you into it so they can’t spam add you to any other groups in the future.

Ps. The screenshot above is from a group I actually like being in – the person who added me knew me well enough to know my interests.

2. You invite me to events I won’t be interested in.

Again, that’s highly subjective. If I know you, and it’s something I could see how you would have a good reason to think I would be interested in attending, then I won’t fault you. But if I don’t know you and it’s a real estate event in Michigan, then you should know that I, a blogger in Arizona, probably won’t be attending.

You may not notice event invites when you get a ton of other notifications, but the best way to find out which of your “friends” are spamviting you to events is to go to your notifications page.

Facebook Events Notifications

So if I see the same person inviting me to events everyday (one in this list has invited me to something new everyday this week), to events with weird titles (I can’t imagine how “what the hell?” is something I’d be interested in), or to off-topic events in places I don’t live, I’m probably going to unfriend them.

If you’re unsure if it’s a spamvite, just check out the event page.

Event Invitations Awaiting Reply

Chances are, if thousands of people have been invited, it’s a spamvite.

3. You’re spamming my wall.

This one can sometimes be tricky, as a well-meaning friend may have had their account hacked and may not actually have meant to leave a weird link on your profile. So this one is at your discretion. But if it’s someone constantly posting their blog posts, articles, affiliate links, etc. on your personal profile, you can ask politely that they stop (if you actually know or care about them being a friend) or choose to unfriend them.

This is usually more of a problem on a Facebook page wall than Facebook profile walls. On a fan page, you have to click on the little wheel next to the wall post and choose to Remove Post or Remove Post and Ban User / Page.

Remove Post and Ban Page User

4. You’re posting things I’m not interested in on my news feed.

Or worse, you’re posting offensive things on your profile that show up in my news feed. I was once following a popular person in the social media industry who just kept posting these either disgusting or offensive (it always fell in one category or the other) photos. I’m sure for the right people it was very humorous, but for me, some of it was the kind of thing I lost my appetite over.

It would be nice if Facebook implemented a way to unfriend someone directly from the news feed like you can choose to unlike a page if you see an update you don’t like. But for now, you have to take the route of going to their profile and unfriending them from there. Alternatively, you can just hide all posts by that person if you want to stay their friend and not see their updates. But really, what’s the point?

Your Friending or Unfriending Policies on Facebook?

Now it’s your turn. What makes you choose to friend someone or put them in the “Not Now” bin? What makes you unfriend someone? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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  1. says

    Hi Kristi,

    I read that 100,000 people unfriended others in the UK last month, mostly for privacy reasons.

    I’ve started to be much more selective as I want to focus on those I know so I can cultivate something real.

    I think we’re on the edge of a HUGE unfollow as saturation & privacy issues become a growing concern.

    Ivan Walsh just posted Corporate Blogging: The Only Metric That Matters

  2. says

    Hi Kristi,

    I think it is just a coincidence that I came to your blog and at the same time FB presented you as having 36 mutual friends with me :). Though I have been here before and did not commented, I know that you are well known in blogosphere and probably have too many friends already. Hence I resisted sending you the friend request at all. :)

    I totally agree with you that it is difficult to manage too many friends. I have unfriended a number of people who are least interactive or who do not have similar interest as mine (“acquaintances”) and thus I have been able to filter out a good friend list. Some of the “friends” have turned out to be “wolves” in disguise of sheep so they are out. Some friends are like “public park bench warmers”.They share and write foolish things. I am sending “bouncers” to them. Some of them are “hawkers” and are immediately eliminated. People who add to me groups(“cause oriented”) are warned and I get support from my other friends for this cause :).
    But I have made mistakes in removing people who took time to connect. So I am not on a shooting spree right now ;).
    I liked your article and I am not sending you a FB request ( not yet :) ).
    Best regards,
    Ashvini just posted Rising suicides among school children because of pressure is worrisome

    • says

      I try to make sure they are not someone I know before I unfriend them Ashvini. In most cases, they are people I have little in common with anyway and they never notice I’ve gone.

  3. says

    I generally try and keep my friends list and my business people seperate, there are a few exceptions. I don’t have massive amounts in either category so doubt I’ll ever have to worry about it. But I keep them this way because I like to unwind between jobs and kids with facebook games like farmville. I know they generate a lot of spammy messages that no-one needs or wants to see unless they play the games themselves. I post regularly telling my friends how to hide these messages, I just hope they are reading when I do :) Thanks for the post, some interesting info.
    Pippa just posted Need Help With Your Blogging?

  4. says

    Although I am careful about who I friend or unfriend and what personal information I share on Facebook. This post is especially useful to the new members on Facebook. If not used carefully Facebook can become a serious threat not only to our online safety but offline too. Not so long ago, there was an incident in Germany where a kid accidentally invited more than 1000 people to her birthday at home and police had to come to disperses the crowd!
    Rison Simon just posted Problogger’s Guide To Blogging For Your Business : New Ebook Of Problogger

  5. says

    I guess we’re on the same boat Kristi. The hardest part and the most time consuming for me is choosing which ones to unfriend. Because I was not minding my friends lists at the beginning, I get a little too overwhelmed now of the saturation of friends in Facebook that I tend to confuse myself as to which ones are my loyal followers and customers and which ones plainly just want to be friends giving me a risk of loosing very important customers and followers while retaining the not-so-important ones.
    Extreme John just posted Business Blitz: Success Tips And Facebook News

  6. says

    Hey Kristi, I’m lagging a little behind in the social media aspect so I don’t have all that many FaceBook followers. In a sense it’s a good thing as I know them all in some way, but even so I get annoyed from inane invitations that I have no interest in. I just let them pile up and then went through and deleted them one by one. It would be nice if there was a way to bulk delete that crap.

    Haven’t unfriended anyone as yet, but that may not be that far away.
    Sire just posted What You Need To Do To Make Your Blog A Success

    • says

      Definitely Sire. There should be bulk deletes of a lot of things on some networks, like getting out of a crazy amount of groups you were added to instead of having to go one by one.

  7. says

    Thanks for sharing your Facebook Marketing Strategy, Kristi!

    A lot of people add me to forums every once in a while but I haven’t really thought to unfriend them. What is even worse is some mass spam emails coming to my Facebook inbox nowadays, those can be pretty frustrating and I think I’ll also start taking measures before adding people.

    I don’t have much friends on Facebook yet so I’m not near the 5000 friends limit, but I think it’s what I can start taking care of from now.
    Onibalusi Bamidele just posted Top 21 Traffic Generation Techniques to Help You Get More Traffic to Your Blog

  8. says

    Kristi – What a timely post in regard to friending and unfriending. Managing 5,000 Facebook Friends seems like it would be overwhelming even as a full time job. This is off topic, but it might be useful for your readers that are Facebook novices (like myself) to expand upon your post It is embarrassing to admit, but I have never delved into creating lists, and my posts are such a mish mash of personal and commercial comments that I am risking alienating both my personal and networking “friends”.
    Randy just posted Will There Ever Be A Social Media Privacy Backlash?

  9. says

    Thank you so much for writing this post, Kristi. One thing you didn’t mention is how personally people take it when you “unfriend” them – I would go through my personal friend list, which is separate from my blog’s fan page, and I would filter through it every few months. Sometimes, things just go sour with a friend or else people say something that you don’t particularly like or whatever else your reason may be. You should be able to unfriend ANYONE at ANYTIME and if anyone gives you a hard time about it, stand your ground. In real life, you are not pressured to be a friend and Facebook is just a digital form of that. Anyway, as you can see, I am a bit intense around this issue :)! Thanks for the write-up! And I know to never invite you to a Facebook event other; I’ll just send a lovely invitation through snail mail ;)! (Just teasing)!
    Farnoosh ~ Prolific Living just posted The World Domination Summit in Portland – My Pilgrimage

    • says

      I’ve never had anyone take it personally. The way I figure it though, better to have one less-than-pleasant string of messages explaining why I unfriended someone than keep them on and be tormented daily by their updates or letting them always have access to being able to post on my wall, add me to groups, tag me in weird photos, and what not.

      And if I got an event invite from you I would actually check it out and not find it offensive at all Farnoosh! :)

  10. says

    Hi Kristi,

    You already manage your thousands of friends very well by creating lists for them. The list makes it possible for you to control what you share and with whom. But it can still be tricky when you have thousands of friends.

    I was selective about who I accepted as FB friends from day 1 because I just wanted to share stuff with people that I knew personally. And now that I have started meeting people in the www, I created an entirely new account for that because I do not want to bore them with the sillyness that me and my friends get up to in my personal FB account.

    Some people make it a point to send friend requests to all their friends’ friends and those ones go to the Not Now bin, don’t know why FB took away the ability to reject straight away. Sometimes I accept people because I knew them from high school or Uni but if after sometime there is no conversation going on between us, I just unfriend them. Have to “weed” that friends list from time to time …

    BTW, First time here … hello! :)
    Maky just posted 20 Steps to Complete Website Creation Domination

    • says

      Hi Maky – glad you stopped by and commented! :)

      Yeah, I do wish they had given the option to confirm, not now, or permanently delete requests. I have hundreds in my not now, and no idea when I’ll have time (if ever) to clear them up.

  11. says

    Hi Kristi,
    For a very long time I only accepted people that I knew in person on facebook. I’ve slowly been adding internet people, but I am still very selective. Like you, I want to have had some sort of contact with them prior to the request. One thing that I look for is mutual friends, that will give me an idea of whether I would be interested or not.

    At this point my friend list is still small so I don’t bother unfriending anyone unless they post something offensive or spammy.

    Thanks for the tips!
    Stacy just posted You Can Be An Entrepreneur

  12. says

    Hey Kristi,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and strategies on friending on Facebook. I recently poured out my grievances on a post at my blog, where I told people the reasons I will unfriend them. Here is the link to the post, if you don’t mind; I think it is a lot relevant and we have some overlaps too :)

    Jane just posted 7 Hard Truths About Blogging You Need to Know!

    • says

      Nice Jane. I totally forgot about photo tagging, but that’s another no-no offense for me. Some people are ok because I know them and they are tagging something I might actually be interested in, but random people who tag 20 people a time to some bikini clad model photo or worse is almost an immediate unfriending.

  13. says

    Wow! I better leave you a comment before you unfriend me since it’s been a week or so since my last comment. ;)

    Seriously, a lot of people will friend you and you wonder who the heck is this person? How did they find me? Sometimes they have mutual friends and I figure they saw me on a post or a forum and wanted to friend me based on what I said.

    I’m only cracking 500 friends so I’ll have to figure out what to do when I hit 5 and three 0s for Facebook friends.

    I’ve seen some people wtih 5000 or close to it, post on their page, leave me a message if you want me to leave you as a Facebook friend. Then others go and start a second Facebook page.

    My two cents.
    Tom just posted The Reading Challenge

    • says

      Generally you have to do something (ie. group adds, too many event invites, etc.) before I’ll unfriend you – I don’t really go through looking to just trim down my list. :) The personal profile to fan page is a pretty common theme. I still like the additional interaction opportunities you get with a personal profile vs. a page though.

  14. Ramcel says

    One thing I don’t like about Facebook is that when they change their privacy policies, usually there is little or no updates to users at all. Also, when they change something, some privacy settings revert to its default values. And if you are not aware of that you will just be surprised one day that Facebook is allowing those you restricted before.

    Another thing is that when they add new privacy policies, the default is usually the one that you do not want.

  15. says

    Yes, it is very important to have a Gravatar since it’s one of the basic requirements to gain trust in online blogging. Using the same picture as well is necessary to be easily recognize by the people you interact with. I was able to realize this just a couple of months ago, when I noticed that Internet Marketers Use the same picture in all their Social Networking sites. :D

  16. says

    Kristi, unfriending people is definitely an “art.” I really angered someone who I had unfriended who was unable to wish me a happy birthday on my wall. After that incident, I’ve never unfriended anyone again. Just not worth the damage it can cause, especially if it’s someone you see frequently. Anything like this ever happen to you?
    Diana just posted Learning Reiki

    • says

      I haven’t angered anyone that I know of Diana. I’ve had one person ask me why I didn’t accept their request, and I told them it was because A) they didn’t send a message, B) I didn’t know them, and C) there was nothing on their profile that I recognized. They didn’t reply, so I guess that was good enough. :)

  17. says

    Thanks for the nice post, Kristi. Three years ago I accepted a lot of requests on my personal account before I got a fan page for my book. I’m just now asking most of these folks to Like my fan page instead, and then removing them from my personal account.

    Also, I’m un-Liking other fan pages on my personal account that I can now Like from my fan page, keeping it a B2B thing. I’ve kept the ones where I’m showing support for someone just starting out, to help their numbers grow, since Likes from my fan page don’t show in their total. Will be very happy to see Facebook make a small change so that fan-to-fan page Likes count, especially since networking that way is so wonderful.
    MaAnna just posted Tips Tuesday June 14 and Computer Hiccups

  18. says

    Hello Kristy. I caught your frustrations with ‘instant adds’ on Facebook. My general rule is ‘if I won’t miss you and you add nothing to my account’ – no hard feelings.

    Also, sometimes you have history with someone and you see them updating, specifically on some theme, it hurts or upsets you. There is where I do it.

    Generally very polite and fair rules to work by when friending.
    Ivin just posted WordPress Wednesday: 101 WordPress Tips.

    • says

      I don’t get pokes on Facebook too often Bob, except from my hubby. But that’s just a little personal online game we play. Anyone else I just delete if it’s random, but if they keep at it, then I get rid of them.

  19. says

    Hi Kristi

    I am with you on don’t add me to a group I am not interested in… The last group I was added to was the Feral and Stray Cats Group…

    I keep two separate FB pages:one personal and then a fan page for my website. However, I posted to my supposed Friends something I thought was funny and got some back lashy… really BITCHY comments from this woman and I thought geez I need to cut back and have only my true friends see my personal page…

    Thanks for the post!
    Rajka just posted The Dangers Of Sunscreen. How To Buy The Safest Sunscreen For You And Your Family?

    • says

      Yipes, that’s not good Rajka. It’s always nice to find people like that to weed out so you can have better interactions!

  20. says

    Hello Kristi!

    I only add someone as a friend only if and when I know the person. From there, I can already filter out people who are just adding me up for some reason, regardless if we have mutual friends or none. With regard to spammy friends (though there’s just a few) and invites to groups I’m not interested in, I just ignore them.

    Thanks for these insights!


    • says

      Hi Kim! Mutual friends doesn’t count for much unless you actually recognize them – I’ve found that if you already have a group of spammers, then new spammers will easily connect with them too and you’ll see that you have 100’s of mutual friends.

  21. says

    They actually have a day called “Facebook Unfriend Day”. I saw it on the newspaper one day and actually went and did it. I went through my entire friends list and unfriended EVERYONE that I wouldn’t say “hi” to on the street. Now I have an awesome Facebook friends list full of people I actually care about.
    Max just posted Black Magnetic Dry Erase Board

  22. says

    Hi Kristi,
    Reading your post reminds me it’s time to go and check if I need to clean my Facebook account again. I did it before when it became too difficult to keep track of all the friends I have and their updates. I noticed it was taking up a lot of my time. So I went ahead and unfriended everyone that I didn’t know personally. After that, I actually felt as if a huge weight has been lifted from me.
    Now, I’m more selective in accepting a friend request. There must be some sort of connection before I click on the confirm button.
    Thanks for sharing this helpful and informative post.
    Theresa Torres just posted The History of Money – Past, Present and Future

  23. says

    Oh, the group option is a pet peeve of mine. Recently I had a friend add me to a group with no heads up, and because I belong to no groups previously, my settings were all on default. So, naturally, suddenly I’m being spammed with emails from people in this VERY active group, and it was a while before I figured out what was going on.

    Needless to say, a little peeved. =) But luckily I’m very picky with my friending process anyway, and hugely organized about where they are in my lists. So I knew he was an okay guy who meant well. Because otherwise? Whew! Spamming nightmare!

    Delena Silverfox just posted Born On The Streets Voucher Code

  24. says

    >>>quickly approaching the 5,000 friend limit

    WOW. I actually don’t think I know anyone near this number. In fact, I’ve noticed a trend among most of my friends where they are constantly going on “de-friending” sprees, usually when they’re somewhere in the few-hundreds. While its true that you can simply silence news-feed posts from acquaintances who are maybe a bit over-eager to post every mundane thought that pops into their heads, there also seems to be a growing feeling that facebook is more for suited for a close-knit group of people you actually want to share detailed personal information with.
    Of course, this doesn’t hold true when you’re talking about a facebook profile intended to promote something; I have various pages for that *other* than my personal profile. Facebook treats these sort of pages differently anyway; they usually require people to “like” your business or group, rather than have it acquire “friends” a la myspace in the olden days.

    freddy k just posted To all you iPhone users, do you use the HDR option? Do you know how to use it? Here are some tips and when and how.

  25. says

    I’ve changed my Facebook friend policy several times so I’ll share what I have done for the past 6 months or so and works great: Unless you are a family member or a friend I know in the flesh (with rare exception for people I’ve never met in the flesh), you don’t get to be my friend and I point you to one of several pages of mine to interact with me there.

    The number of my FB friends are comparable to Dunbar’s number, now.
    Ari Herzog just posted TNT Lied; Twitter and Facebook Talk Back

  26. says

    Great article. I see that one of your criteria for accepting friend requests is a personal message. This is something that I tend to not do, but in the future I will. It makes sense. Esp. if I explain why I would like to friend someone on Facebook.

    Also for me, if I get a friend request from someone I don’t know, I will shoot them a message asking how it is that they know me. All they have to do is respond (in a non-creepy way) and I will almost always friend them. OTOH, there are all too many times that I don get a response. Then I know they are just spamming facebook.
    Mike just posted How To Unfriend Someone on Facebook

  27. says

    Thanks Kristi for this great tutorial :D

    My Facebook account now has about 1k7 friends or so. And I will admit that I know only a small number of them. But I was like you when I first started (the game of numbers, you know). Soon I realized that I have friends that have nothing to do with me but spamming my wall. I’ve stopped adding more friends and accept only people I know because I know that’s the way to go!
    Duy just posted By: black_raven