Facebook Friend Requests: Unwritten Rules & Hidden Settings [Weekly Facebook Tips]

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Facebook is all about connecting with other people and making friends. Yet friend requests are delicate and can quickly get you in trouble with Facebook. While you probably won’t get banned for inappropriate friend requests, many people have been blocked from adding more friends. And even if it was a mistake, the block cannot be lifted early. It really does help knowing the unwritten rules.

Facebook is complex, and this might be necessary for friend requests. Unfortunately, it’s a tough place for beginners because innocent mistakes can lead to drastic consequences. So here are a few Facebook friend request tips to help you and people who request your friendship avoid unintentional punishment and generally make the most of all features around Facebook friends.

Basics for Beginners

Here is a little refresher on how to add friends for those of you not too familiar with Facebook. Everyone else, please skip ahead.

You can see all your pending friend requests via the Friends icon in the top right of Facebook.

Clicking the icon will open a menu that shows all pending Friend Requests and a list of People You May Know.

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Click Confirm to add a friend or Not Now to hide a request. The sender won’t be notified.

You can also search people, open their profiles, and if they accept friend requests from the public or friends of friends add them by clicking the +1 Add Friend button located on their profile to the right of their name.

To cancel a friend request, go back to their profile, hover over the button that now reads +1 Friend Request Sent and select Cancel Request from the menu.

You can also remove a friend via their profile or your friends list. Facebook does not notify people if you remove them. However, it is possible to track your friends list with third party tools and receive alerts when people remove you.

And with that you know all the basics about Facebook friend requests. Except that you should

Connect Before You Add Someone

Facebook wants you to add only people you know in real life. If your friend requests frequently remain unanswered or even if just one person reports your friend request as unwanted, Facebook may conclude that you have sent friend requests that violate their Community Standards, especially the point addressing bullying and harassment. As a result, you will be blocked from sending friend requests for a period of time.

To avoid being blocked from adding friends, follow these guidelines:

  • make it easy for people to recognize you, i.e. use your photo and real name
  • try to add only people who you have mutual Facebook friends with
  • send your desired contact a message introducing yourself before you add them

In other words: don’t look like a fake account, don’t be a stranger, and don’t add random strangers!

Add Friends Conservatively

You will often want to add a new friend immediately, even though you don’t have mutual friends on Facebook. And it might be more awkward to send a message first than to add them directly. That’s cool. Just be sure you don’t add too many people without common friends at once.

If you don’t know someone, just want to know what they post to Facebook, and if there is an option to follow them, give that preference over adding them as a friend. This allows you to see what they are up to, but your Timeline is not shard with them.

Review Hidden Friend Requests

Facebook doesn’t immediately delete friend requests that you choose not to confirm. When you click the Not Now button, the request is merely hidden. You can see all hidden requests on your Friend Requests page. Here you can either confirm or delete requests. The sender won’t be notified.

If you delete a request, Facebook will ask whether you know that person outside of Facebook. Keep in mind that if you select No, the person may be penalized. And that person won’t be able to send you another friend request.

Block Friend Requests from Strangers

Facebook allows you to limit who can send you friend requests. Applying the limitation will keep those strangers desperate to connect with you out of trouble. From the Friend Requests menu in the top right, click Settings and choose Everyone or Friends of Friends from the drop-down menu.

Alternatively, open Privacy Shortcuts from the top right (next to Home button), expand Who can contact me? and choose Everyone or Friends of Friends under Who can send me friend requests?

Review Friend Requests You Have Sent

Click the Privacy Shortcut button in the top right (next to Home button), expand Who can see my stuff? and click Use Activity Log.

On your Activity Log page, click MORE underneath Comments to expand all Facebook sections. Click Friends. You can now browse all activities related to adding, accepting, and removing friends.

Decide Who Can See Your Friends List and Friend Activity

In the Friends Activity Log described above, you can further refine your privacy settings by choosing who can see your friends list and where your friend activity will show up. Click the respective icons in the top right of the Friends Activity Log and choose your settings. By deselecting every option for where your friend activity can show up, you can effectively friend someone and hide it from your status updates.

For more tips on how to guard your Facebook privacy, see this article on how to hide your personal information.


Friend requests on Facebook are inherently awkward. Whether you add your best friend, someone you know from school, your mom, or your boss, everyone is your friend. Well, obviously not! And Facebook does acknowledge that there are different qualities among your contacts, which is why they offer default lists like close friends, family, and acquaintances.

Unfortunately, you cannot add a custom message along with a friend request. It would give you the chance to explain why you want to add that person as a friend. So if they don’t remember you or disapprove of your approach, they will most likely deny your friend request; without any explanation of course and Facebook won’t even notify you. Instead, Facebook may block you from adding further friends. Thus it’s worth being careful with your friend requests.

Do you have a policy for adding friends and have you ever had issues with friend requests?

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