Social Media

5 Reasons Why You Should Start Deleting Facebook Friends

Dan Price 11-03-2016

Some people view Facebook as a popularity contest. Having more friends means you’re seen by your peers as being more popular, right?


Well, maybe. Once upon a time, Facebook was all about adding; more social used to equal more fun. Not anymore. Now it’s all about deleting.

In fact, having a four-digit number of friends really isn’t sensible. We’ll take a look at some reasons why you should start deleting some of your Facebook friends…

It’s Bad for Your Brain

Research suggests that we struggle to maintain more than 150 real-life friendships at once. It’s called “Dunbar’s Number” after the Oxford University anthropologist who discovered the phenomenon. He claims that any number beyond that starts to “strain the cognitive capacity of the human brain”.

According to Dunbar, that figure translates into the online world too:

“The interesting thing is that you can have 1,500 friends, but when you actually look at traffic on sites, you see people maintain the same inner circle of around 150 people that we observe in the real world”

If we take that number as a base, then add on a few long-lost school friends and other people you intermittently need to keep in touch with, you’d probably reach an absolute ceiling of 200-250 Facebook buddies.


This number is borne out by the facts. The mean average number of Friends on Facebook is 338, but the median is only around 200. That means a significant portion of people have a much higher number of friends, and they are skewing the mean average.

You’re Sacrificing Your Best Relationships

If you are one of the 15 percent of users who have more than 500 friends, you could be jeopardizing your nearest and dearest relationships for ultimately unimportant online kudos.

Maria Konnikova was the first to raise the point while writing for the New Yorker:

“With social media, we can easily keep up with the lives and interests of far more than a hundred and fifty people. But without investing the face-to-face time, we lack deeper connections to them, and the time we invest in superficial relationships comes at the expense of more profound ones.”

Dunbar supports her claim. “The amount of social capital you have is pretty fixed,” he said. “It involves time investment. If you garner connections with more people, you end up distributing your fixed amount of social capital more thinly so the average capital per person is lower.”



It appears that the key here is to recognize the difference between real-life and virtual. Should you be using your phone at a family meal to make some witty remark on the photo of someone you met on a beach in Thailand? Clearly not. But is it a good thing to have that relationship logged in Facebook in case you ever want to revisit it in the future. Probably.


Away from the academic reasons, there are also plenty of practical reasons.

Chief among them is privacy. Yes, we know Facebook theoretically has lots of tools What Does Facebook Know About You? Why You Should Delete Facebook What does Facebook really know about you? One thing's for sure: if you want online privacy, Facebook is best avoided. Read More to keep photos, posts, and personal data limited to certain sub-sets of your friends, but very few people use them to their fullest extent. (Be honest, how many of you have taken the time to set up customized groups of close friends with whom to share stuff?!).



Facebook is now 12 years old, and if you were one of the early adopters there is a very good chance you’ll be one of the aforementioned 15 percent of users who have more than 500 friends.

You need to ask yourself whether you want all these people creeping on your life (and whether you want to keep creeping on theirs). You know how it is, you’ve got people on your friend list that you’ve not spoken to since primary school, but you know the name of their kids and how many times they’ve been married.

Worst of all, all these people know the same stuff about you. That’s just weird.


Clean Up Your Newsfeed

This is also a great reason for unliking random things like airlines and hotels What to Do When No One Likes Your Facebook Status What should you do when your Facebook statuses get zero likes, or fewer likes than you expected? Read More – it will all make your newsfeed much cleaner and more enjoyable to spend time on.

Do you really care that your old boss has checked into a restaurant in Prague? Or that a random bar you liked back in college is selling tickets for their latest Tuesday night extravaganza?


It all comes back to what Dunbar and Konnikova were discussing. Clearing out your friends (and likes) will mean the news you should care about will be more prominent on your feed, allowing you to better develop your meaningful relationships and discard the unimportant ones.

People Are Just Annoying

There has been plenty of research around “annoying” Facebook posts.

In 2014, 2,000 people were asked what were the main reasons they’d delete someone on the site. The top ten included:

  • Excessive bragging – 68%
  • Pointed statuses – 56%
  • Game requests – 48%
  • Attention seeking – 41%
  • Excessive selfies – 38%

It makes sense to get rid of people whose posts annoy you online Facebook Makes Us Angry, Windows 10 Users Hit With Ads... [Tech News Digest] Facebook makes everybody emotional, ads appear on the Windows 10 lock screen, Apple wants to make the iPhone impossible to hack, Siri is coming to Mac, and bullying robots looks like fun. Read More . Why let yourself get frustrated and irritated by someone else’s social media feed? There are already enough issues in the world to anger us.

If they’re a genuine close friend you can mute them How to Politely Ignore Someone on Facebook Instead of unfriending, which might be considered rude, there are many tactful ways to ignore others on Facebook. Read More , if not, give them the elbow.

How to Decide Who to Unfriend

Making these points is all well and good – but when push comes to shove and your mouse is hovering over the unfriend button, it all suddenly feels a bit final.

How do you know you won’t run into them again in five years’ time and become BBFs?! What if they realize that you’ve binned them?

Each person needs to decide their own parameters for unfriending. As a rule, focus on old school chums, old work colleagues, people you met on vacation, and random mutual acquaintances from years gone by. You won’t miss them, I promise. And remember, you can hide Facebook friends instead of deleting them.

For some unwritten rules regarding Facebook friend requests Facebook Friend Requests: Unwritten Rules and Hidden Settings If you have questions like "Why can't I friend someone on Facebook?" then you need this guide to Facebook friend requests. Read More before you even accept them, check out our tips.  And while you’re decluttering your friend list, how about deleting Facebook notifications How to Delete Facebook Notifications Facebook has a reputation for spamming users. Here's everything you need to know about managing Facebook notifications. Read More to clean up your Facebook experience further?

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  1. Sarika
    June 23, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    I unfriended 63 people in one go since over the period of 2 years I found them disinterested in me.
    Though I posted in custom group, still didn’t want those disinterested people in my friend list.

  2. Kristina Allen
    April 5, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    OMG!!!!!!!!! I can’t believe ___(dr_mack @yahoo. com) could bring my boyfriend back!!! I am so impressed with the result, everything happened so fast!______."

  3. Jodi
    December 28, 2017 at 10:33 am

    You can always just UN Follow friends, as well. You don’t have to delete them if you are tired of seeing someone post 20 inspirational BS quotes, everyday. There are people I bump into in the “real world” who when I see them, are nice and enjoy talking to them but on FB, I start asking myself what is wrong with them that they constantly neef to keep posting a similar kind of content, almost daily?!... So, I just UN Follow.

  4. Alex Laycock
    December 20, 2017 at 6:26 am

    I want to clear out people that say to my face they have read my posts but never engage on fb ,which i find creepy, those that bully me into doing the " cut and paste this status i bet many of my friends wont"...and those that i know read my wall yet never write anything on their own,and friends with no profile picture that you have never met give me the creeps

    • Jojo
      December 17, 2018 at 1:42 am

      I’m not sure how old you are but I was born and raised in the 80s. Not everyone is expressive enough to write something on their own wall let alone dropping comments on their friends’ post. The way you described yours, I am that friend. Just because I don’t engage you on FB, be thankful that I engage you in real life. The article sums it all, would you rather have a virtual friend or a real life friend? Most probably I could share what was going on my side. I told a friend of mine I saw his post and told him I verbally liked it, I told him I appreciated what he shared on his wall. To my surprised, he had the audacity to say things like “why didn’t you tap like on my post? Why did you never comment?”

      Get what I mean here? I am pretty sure you know where I am going with this but long story short, my friend was an attention seeker, the number of likes on his post was way more important that our real life friendship. Go figure.

  5. Mirage
    October 22, 2017 at 11:44 am

    I might as well delete everyone. I'm a social pariah in life and facebook. I will ask a question like "does anyone have any suggestions on things to do in Chicago? Or can anyone suggest a good veterinarian" Or any other innocuous post. Crickets. No likes, no comment, as if I don't exist. But, other people will post pictures of food, suggestions on dating, their new hairstyle, Etc and tons of likes and comments. I don't get it. I get more interaction from strangers on the pages I follow and most of that is hateful trolls. I'm so isolated from social interaction I might as well delete everyone and just browse informational or interest pages. No one would even notice I'm gone.

    • james
      October 26, 2017 at 11:43 pm

      You and me both. I am not sure why, but it's like that with me.

    • Suzanne
      October 29, 2017 at 3:09 am

      That makes me sad. I'm guessing that you must be commenting on your "friends'" posts which usually invites them to comment on yours. If not, then try it. I'm hoping that you don't take all this too seriously as most of Facebook is very superficial.

      • Heidi V
        November 13, 2018 at 11:24 pm

        Facebook IS superficial, but it as a great way to joke around lightly and have fun with people and pave the way so that eventually one of you asks, "Hey we should get together..." And from that point, Facebook becomes a nice little thing to do in between seeing each other.

    • Jojo
      December 17, 2018 at 1:48 am

      I understand where you are coming from. I suggest you can use a burner account. Not necessary a fake account for you troll at people. You can still be nice and decent using a burner account and go on with your life like your normally would, only difference is that you won’t feel so self conscious anymore as you claimed when asking innocuous questions as you claimed.

  6. Carole R
    August 3, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    It's hard because I mainly use facebook to meet and make friends with [world-wide] artists. At the same time at times I want to wipe out my friends and like you said, decrease my internet friends and keep the people I know in person so I have less. (I have about 350 friends now.) It's hard to choose!

  7. Laurinda Huntsman
    July 8, 2017 at 7:43 am

    Just an idea~but how about if you don't want to see "annoying" posts... Just don't get on Facebook??? Anyone do that besides me?

    When I post, I often do so without getting on the Facebook site. I tell the important people in my life if they have something they want me to really see to please text me or I often won't be aware of it!

    Thanks, everyone, for your various ideas! I appreciated them (& definitely learned a few things I want to do differently!)!!!

  8. Nate
    June 16, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    I have 58 FB friends. They are real people that I talk to, have my email, my cell phone, etc . Many are family, friends plucked from each part of life. Those in town I actually see in person. Those out of town are the ones I tell I am coming to visit. Because of this I actually read every post they do, care about what they post and actually understand their post. I know their children's names and about their life's outside of FB. All my FB friends interact with me and I don't get lost in a newsfeed. I would never ever want 100 plus friends.

  9. Sharon
    February 9, 2017 at 8:28 am

    I really want to add something. I have actually gone to strangers and looked at their Facebook page in search of people who had the same interests I have. I love garden and wildlife and cats. I actually sent those types a friend request and they know they don't know me but I'm amazed and happy when many accept my friendship. I have better friendships with them than the friends I Do Know. The friends I know who correspond seem to have levels of emotional problems.
    The strangers who accepted my friendship use Facebook like I do. We share recipes, garden tips, cat photos with funny captions. We Know We Strangers Because We Laugh About It. They even said they accepted me because they looked at my Facebook and thought, why not? Lol
    I correspond with people from other countries. Especially England and Italy. No dating crap. No wanting to visit. None of that. Just good clean honest friendships. I'm happily married and so are they. Male and females. I guess you can say we are average people who just enjoy having others to share our same interest with. Try it. Just keep it clean and innocent and don't turn it into some dating game. You want a friend. A genuine friend.

  10. Sharon
    February 9, 2017 at 7:56 am

    I have no problem at all unfriending people.
    Some people post too many photos of their kids... unfriend. I'm sick of looking at their kids on my news feed. Some people Love Their Own Self, their Selfies of themself clog up my timeline. UnFriend!
    Some people constantly searching for pity over lost loved ones. I mean how many times do I have to say I'm sorry you lost your mother or father thirty years ago but you cry each week. I miss my mom, I miss my dad. I saw a butterfly it must be my mom. I understand if it's mom's birthday and you are sharing a memory but come on two and three times a week! Unfriend. You demand too much sympathy. Grow up.

    • Omigah Yusufane
      February 14, 2018 at 6:08 am

      Haha, holy crap, dude!

    • Savannah
      November 12, 2019 at 6:46 am

      Wow, Sharon. I'm glad I don't know you. Why do I still get surprised by how heartless people are? How small to believe someone needs to grow up for expressing grief. It's emotionally stunted people who act like death of loved ones only affects them for a month, that isn't strength. I've worked in hospice for many years and I know people like you think it's strength to get over a los quickly. I lost both my parents in recent years. I don't post much about them because I know people like you lack empathy when someone is hurting. I bet you make fun of the chronically ill as well.

  11. Mark F.
    January 5, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    When I first got on Facebook many years ago I promised myself not to have more than 50 friends, then it was 75, then 100 and at the end I had over 800 hundred. At one point I decided to have 2 accounts, 650 people who really don't interest me that much and 150 that I felt I needed to keep. I still have the 650 account but I never use it. Yesterday I got my "real" Facebook account down to 110. My goal is to get it to 75. I am going to remove people who I really don't connect or know well. The only exception will be if someone posts really cool pictures or is in another country, I always loved having pen pals. I am going to close my 650 account but I want to go through each contact and see if there are a few I want to move over to my "real" Facebook. That will be quite an undertaking. I thought about deleting my account altogether but there are people with whom I would otherwise lost contact. And after that I will not use my real phone number or email address so people won't be able to find me easily. I have a very common first and last name.

  12. Jesse R Russell
    December 9, 2016 at 6:56 am

    I only use Facebook for info, like what event is coming up or what is playing at the theater. I haven't created a post or done any interacting with people basically since November 9th and it has been good not stressing about some argument with someone and half the time a stranger who my friend knows. Facebook was fun when only college kids could sign up and things seemed more good-natured, not-so-serious and more personable. Now, it's a mix of drivel, bullying, unproductive nonsense and happy meandering. It was nice keeping up with people at first but now there is too much and mostly it is driving people crazy. If only more people could learn to entertain new ideas without resorting to name-calling and use the site to connect and foster a new perspective and broaden their horizons.

  13. Mark W.
    December 8, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    I'm sure the recent election has ended not just Facebook friendships but real friendships as well. I am a very tolerant person, and I've posted my share of political links or points of view, always re-reading and editing if necessary, and sometimes even going back and deleting. But this generation of safety pin wearers, looking for their secure place, unable to even comprehend differing opinions or thinking before they write/respond has made it difficult to tolerate many people whom you think that you really know. I can agree to disagree, but after un-following certain people so many times, giving them several more chances and finally giving up, it's time to "unfriend". I find the whole concept of Facebook to be juvenile. Even efforts to fix issues or get feedback with those stupid faces asking "Was this helpful?" is even more ridiculous than things I had to deal with in my long ago high school days. I've deleted my account before or put it on hold, and it will come to it again in the future. I figure the only way to get yourself off of it is to ween yourself away gradually. But in the meantime, I will feel no guilt for ending not only Facebook friendships, but the real life friendships that really weren't in the first place. If it really serves any purpose, it's to see people for who they really are on the inside. It's amazing to see how many adults are babied by their friends rather than advised to grow up and let the wounds happen so you can heel and be better.

  14. Alaena
    November 22, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    It might sound awful but I have been using the Facebook "wish them a happy Birthday" feature to help me unfriend. If Facebook says it's someone's birthday and I would feel weird wishing them more than a generic happy birthday, do not know them, or have completely lost touch, I just unfriend them. I figure that after a year or two of this I will slowly but surely pair my friend list down to the people that matter without having to go through a big emotional vetting process all at once.

    • Wesley
      December 3, 2016 at 1:13 am

      That's exactly what I do.

      • l
        May 27, 2017 at 11:43 am

        I'm so glad I'm no the only one who does this!!

      • l
        May 27, 2017 at 11:43 am

        I"m so glad other people do this!

    • Nadia
      October 28, 2017 at 6:25 am

      I do the same! If I don't feel the need to write to that persons birthday, it means we lost the contact, I unfriend them. Its easy and I think most of the people don't even notice or care.

  15. Farida
    October 19, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Please delete all as I donot know them at all .

  16. CarlosParadox
    October 2, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Stalkers, Spying, Stealing Posts...

  17. Drew A
    August 26, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    I went cold turkey on FB in December. One minute I was there, the next I wasn't. Haven't heard a peep of concern from any of my FB 'friends' afterward (if they wanted to, they likely had other ways of contacting me to ask me what happened). While I've thought about re-activating my account for logistical reasons (i.e. to stay in the loop of my kids' school's social media), I do occasionally peruse my wife's account.
    This proves to me the value of FB...and it isn't much when it comes to true friendship. So, I say to all reading this--get over yourselves on FB and leave it behind.

    • Ann
      September 21, 2016 at 5:58 am

      I am also going to cold turkey this time consuming rubbish. I only joined FB as it was the only way I could see my nieces and nephews who are growing up overseas. Its a true waste of time as most of the time my complimentary comments are totally ignored and to be honest I seldom get a comment about anything I might post on FB.

  18. Anna belle
    August 2, 2016 at 1:01 am

    I send birthday wishes to every FB friend and have even gone to dinner with them and not one" not one sent well wishes on my birthday. I did not wish them happy birthday only to receive it in return, but I am thinking of unfriending them all and just letting them remain on my professional FB page.

  19. tired of crap
    July 23, 2016 at 8:15 am

    This is a very informative article. It is especially helpful for those who have not realized the GOOD sense of avoiding these ANTI-Social networks altogether. Hopefully for all of our sake, the users of these services will cease-even if it is just a small bit at a time. :)

    • Drew A
      August 26, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      Absolutely agree. I went cold turkey on FB in December. One minute I was there, the next I wasn't. Haven't heard a peep of concern from any of my FB 'friends' afterward (if they wanted to, they likely had other ways of contacting me to ask me what happened). While I've thought about re-activating my account for logistical reasons (i.e. to stay in the loop of my kids' school's social media), I do occasionally peruse my wife's account.
      This proves to me the value of FB...and it isn't much when it comes to true friendship. So, I say to all reading this--get over yourselves on FB and leave it behind.

  20. kerry
    July 22, 2016 at 8:33 am

    I have deleted people who are attention seeking,like to flaunt their spelling,education,smartness,and thrive on getting more friends.Also
    people who report every detail of every day,and post and post,and try to get
    you in a conversation that can sometimes go on for an hour.One I deleted kept
    posting animal abuse photo's that ruined my sense of peace and happiness.

  21. Napabrown
    April 10, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    I've found that almost all posts that irritate me (backward political posts for example) are actually reposts and not typed by my friends. I have become disciplined about blocking the original source of the idiocy using the little arrow in the upper right of the offending post, then clicking 'More'. Now I can see where my friends are and what they are doing on the planet sans the idiocy they feel the need to repost.

  22. Joe Orsak
    March 29, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    I think the logical fallacy comes in the assumption that the purpose of Facebook is ONLY for maintaining close friendships. I'm a very socially engaged person. I use Facebook to market, to communicate events on a larger scale, also to get a pulse on what people are discussing and what is relevant. There's many angles to how Facebook is used.

    I do live feed's and I'll have a hundred people tune in. Where can you get the ability to gather a hundred people in a room, communicate on a subject, have interaction, and do it all for free? Why would I UNfriend an audience?

  23. Dann Albright
    March 16, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    I go back and forth every once in a while on whether I should unfriend someone or just mute them. On one hand, what's the point of having a Facebook friend if you're not going to see any of their stuff in your feed? Why not just unfriend them? On the other, being from the Midwest, I'm pretty afraid of hurting people's feelings, and that makes me want to keep them on my friends list and not ever see any of their postings. Right now I'm in an "unfriend unless they're family" sort of phase. What do you think, Dan? Why unfriend instead of mute?

    • tired of crap
      July 23, 2016 at 8:19 am


    • Tech Man
      April 1, 2018 at 12:51 pm

      Yeah, I live in North Dakota, I get it.

      "North Dakota Nice"

  24. StevetotheH
    March 16, 2016 at 1:49 am

    150 friends?! If you believe you have 150 something is wrong with you, maybe more than slightly diluted. Most people are lucky to have five, the rest..... well the rest are acquaintances. Would you leave your kids with 149 of those people? Would 149 of those people pick you up from the hospital? If shit hit the fan, would you lend any of those 150 people over $20? They are either not your friends or the meaning of friendship has changes!

  25. Guy Hutchins
    March 15, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    I have 347. I have played music for years and know a lot of folks. Mostly musicians, friends, and old friends are on my friends list but I can see adding people from clubs, gigs, etc. This allows for advertising gigs I will be playing.
    That would make sence but half are people I know but really don't share any interests. I have been unfollowing them as not to offend and leave a communication channel open. I also have misc "friends" that post hot pics of themselves and others. Entertainment value
    I have yet to do a purge but plan on it soon. Also I plan on getting into the settings and dividing my friends and contacts accordingly.
    I might try Jack Cola's method. It seems to make good sence.

  26. Jack Cola
    March 14, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    With websites such as, if you unfriend your old friends, they may know, which can hurt the relationship - meaning there is no way you will ever be able talk to them again.

    Instead of unfriending, just put them into the restricted list. This way, they will only know when they visit your profile that you have sort of unfriended them - but only do this if you don't want them to see your status updated.

    Alternatively, just unfollow them so you won't receive any of their updates in your newsfeed. But if you want to know what they are up to, you just need to visit their profile.

    I think this is a much better alternative then unfriending... because who knows, years down the track you may wish to talk to them again.

    • Debbie
      December 20, 2016 at 10:27 pm

      Thank you-my newsfeed is more manageable and I don't hurt anyone's feelings.

  27. Valine
    March 14, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    I've gotten to the point where I won't initiate adding any people to my Facebook anymore. If someone wants to add me as their friend, fine, but I went through the lesson of adding people and then they dropped me a year or less later for no apparent reason other than we weren't really friends in the first place or I wasn't important enough for them to keep. I've got maybe 150 people on my friends list and a significant portion are what I would consider acquaintances or friends of family or people I knew in H.S. or in college but we don't actually hang out. I would quit Facebook altogether if I didn't need it to keep in touch with the few people I really want to...people who refuse to use any other method to keep in touch.

  28. bben
    March 12, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    Many of those FB 'friends' are not friends at all and likely not even acquaintances. And, if you have more than a hundred or so, many are probably people you have never even really met and would have nothing to do with in real life. Then, how can you be 'friends' with a business? You can be a good customer, but they are still a business and not a friend.

    The old Google Circles ( before they decided to abandon the original concept and try to be just like another FB) was good at separating internet people into various categories - Friends, Family, Acquaintances, People I know at work, or whatever category you wanted. Due to their terrible security I have never signed up on FB, but now I find they keep a profile on me without my permission anyway. How is this legal?

  29. Joe
    March 11, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Why not just unfollow your acquaintances and continue following your actual friends?

  30. Dia
    March 11, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    If they'd make it simpler to remove them, vs going one at a time through them, page by page, I would, but I'm not bothering to go to EACH of 1200ish pages and unfriend the ones I don't want to keep.

    • Joe
      March 11, 2016 at 6:23 pm

      You can hover over names in the friends list, and a popup will then appear that you can use to unfriend. It's not quite as easy as a multi-select but quicker than going to each of their pages.

  31. Anonymous
    March 11, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    I have 26 facebook friends and most of those are close friends/family.

    Over the years I have deleted many people who I no longer have any interaction with.

    As a rule of thumb, anybody I have not spoken with in the past year is taken off my list of friends.

    My main aim is to completely get rid of Facebook but it does have it's uses.

    The main one for me is using FB as a log in for other websites.... like MUO.

    I know there are other ways to log into sites but that little "log in with Facebook" is rather handy.

    • Bob
      December 17, 2018 at 2:07 am

      That rule of thumb of yours is a good idea to deal with things at home you never used so that you won’t be a hoarder. A zen skill I read once in the internet. However, when it comes to people, it doesn’t seem to be that easy. When you said you have not spoken to him over a year, I am here thinking of the technicalities of who did not respond to whom. He might be the one who didn’t respond to your texts, might be the one who took a rain cheque for hanging out etc. If that’s the case, it’s a safe bet to delete him. There is still a big but though, for all we know he might undergone a chemotherapy for 6 months and died 6 months after. True story for me.