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8 Reasons to Unfriend Someone on Facebook

Lauren, Publicity Assistant

If you haven’t already heard, unfriend is the New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year. In honor of this announcement, I surveyed Facebook users across the country about why they would choose to unfriend someone.

1. They’ve turned into a robot.
“People send me Green Patches all the time,” said Jane Kim, a television research assistant in NYC. “It’s annoying. And that’s all I ever get from them. Clearly, they’re not interested in actually being friends.”

That’s because your friends are robots, Jane. Marketing robots. These are the friends you never hear from except when they want you to join a cause, sign a petition, donate money, become a fan of a product, or otherwise promote something. Farmville robots are increasingly becoming problems as well, but are not yet grounds for unfriending.

2. You don’t know who they are.
“A few days ago, Facebook suggested I reconnect with a friend whose name I didn’t recognize,” said Jessica Kay, a lawyer in Kansas City. “She’d recently gotten married, but I hadn’t even known she was engaged. I’ll probably unfriend her later. Along with some random people I met at parties in college.”

“You’re tired of seeing [that mystery name] your newsfeed,” said Jonathan Evans, a contract specialist in Seattle. “You haven’t talked to that person since the random class you took together, and you’ll probably never talk to them again.”

3. They broke your heart.
Jonathan Lethem, author of Chronic City, shared that his number one reason to unfriend someone is “because they just broke up with you on Facebook.”

So, maybe they didn’t break your heart. But if the only reason you were friends on Facebook is because you two were somehow involved, it might be time to play some Beyoncé, crack open the Haagen-Dazs and click “Remove from Friends”.

4. You don’t like them anymore.
In the early years of Facebook, users would  friend everyone their dorm, everyone from high school, and every person they had ever shared a sandbox with. But now, many people are finding they no longer like a number of their friends, and spend time creating limited profiles, customizing the newsfeed, and avoiding Facebook chat.

Teresa Hynes, a student at St. John’s University, pointed out that it’s silly to be concerned one of these people might find out you’ve unfriended them and get angry. “You are never going to see them again,” she said. “You don’t want to see them ever again. You hated them in high school. Your mass communications group project is over.”

5. Annoying status updates.
“I don’t want to see ‘So-and-so wishes it was over,’” said Andrew Varhol, a marketing manager in NYC. “Or the cheers of bandwagon sports fans—when suddenly someone’s, ‘Go Yankees! Go Jeter!’ Where were you before October?”

Excessive status updates are one example of Facebook abuse. Amy Labagh of powerHouse Books admits she is irritated by frequent updates. “It’s like they want you to think they’re cool,” she said, “but they’re not.”

A professor at NYU, agreed, and said he finds a number of these frequent updates to be “too bourgie.” “It’ll say something like, ‘So-and-so is drinking whatever in the beautiful scenery of some field.’ I mean, really?!”

The style and type of each update is also important. A number of users agree that song lyrics, poetry, and literary quotations can be extremely annoying. Updates with misspellings or lacking punctuation were also noted. “I once unfriended someone because they updated their statuses in all caps,” said Erin Meehan, a marketing associate in NYC.

6. Obnoxious photo uploads.
Everyone has a different idea about what photos are appropriate to post , but a popular complaint from Facebook users in their 20s concerned wedding and baby photos. “It’s just weird,” said a bartender in Manhattan. “I know that older people are joining now, but if you’re at the stage in your life when most the photos are of your kids, I mean, what are you doing on Facebook?”

“I think makeout photos are worse,” said his coworker. “My sister always posts photos of her and her boyfriend kissing. Sometimes I want to unfriend and unfamily her.”

Across the board, a number of users found partially nude photos, or images of someone flexing their muscles as grounds for unfriending. Another reason, as cited specifically by Margitte Kristjansson, graduate student at UC San Diego, could be if “they upload inappropriate pictures of their stab wounds.”

7. Clashing religious or political views.
“I can’t handle it when someone’s updates are always about Jesus,” said Robert Wilder, a writer in New York.

In the same vein, Phil Lee, lead singer of The Muskies, said he’s extremely irritated by “religious proselytizing and over-enthusiastic praise and Bible quoting. Often in all caps.”

An anonymous Brooklynite shared that he purged his Facebook account after the last Presidential election. “It was a big deal to me,” he said. “I found it hard to be friends with people who didn’t vote for Obama.” After which his friend added, “I voted for McKinney.”

8. “I wanted a free Whopper.”
In January, Burger King launched the Whopper Sacrifice application, which promised each Facebook user a free Whopper if they unfriended 10 people. It sounded simple enough, but if you chose to unfriend someone via the application, it sent a notification to that person, announcing they had been sacrificed for the burger. Burger King disabled the application within the month when the Whopper “proved to be stronger than 233,906 friendships.”

Since Facebook has made the home page much more customizable than it used to be, you might wonder, “Why unfriend when I can hide?” More and more, Facebook users are choosing to use limited profiles and editing their newsfeed so undesirable friends disappear from view. “I find lately I’m friending more people, then blocking them,” said Gary Ferrar, a magician in New York. “That way no one gets mad, no one’s feelings get hurt.”

Do you have another reason? Tell us about it!

Recent Comments

  1. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  4. Michelle

    I think most people (girls anyway) keep their exes as friends on Facebook so they can stalk them for a while after a break up, even if they were the ones doing the breaking up!

  5. [...] term would be “unfollow”). In the wake of the announcement from NOAD, a flurry of articles appeared in the press explaining “top reasons why” people pare down their social [...]

  6. [...] Oxford Press Blog (…they chose “unfriend” as word of the year) and their 8 reasons to unfriend people on Facebook. [...]

  7. Sally

    haha I agree. I mean there are ppl on my list that I don’t even like but I didn’t unfriend them yet cause it’s funny when I stalk and laugh at their pictures… lol but it’s getting on my nerves so I may do it soon ! :P

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    [...] Dezember 2009 ) können mit ihrer täglichen Praxis des “become a friend of x” oder des Löschens vorhandener “friend”- Profile auch von der Lexikographie nicht mehr ignoriert werden : In Deutschland belegt dieses Soziale [...]

  9. [...] Here’s a good post on circumstances where you might choose to unfriend someone. [...]

  10. Nitza Fairlie

    How do people get requests from other people that high. unlikely would ask to be my friend. Does facebook does the match? My family we have the same last name on our e-m address Facebook computers notice the affinity. e.g. my husb is asked by this”adorable” niece to be his”friend” and then based on that computer probabilities, suddenly a notice appears she want to be my friend and friends with rest of family is it her or facebk doing the match?
    also, when i unfriend someone are they just removed fm my facebbok acct that would be nice with no further notice so if asked i say i do not know, it happened to other friends,sorry and that is it? Please respond. N

  11. Mike

    How cheesy can you be to unfriend someone who did not vote for the Annointed Cherub?

    I personally don’t care who someone votes for but I also don’t care to see “status updates” that inform me they are gunning all sorts of folks down in Mafia Wars.

  12. Clau

    Who the f@ck are these people who get so irratated about such miniscule things. Are we that f@cking spoiled and petty?! “I couldn’t be friend with non-Obama supperter”? I think it is at this point that people should look in the mirror when looking for problems.

  13. Chris

    I just hide them, unless they are really freaky or constantly use foul language.

    I wish they had a way for you to see who is viewing your page that is not a FB friend.

    All the apps I know only track your friends that post (or do something else) on your page because everything on FB is cached, so there is no record of just viewing someone’s FB page. This kind of app would eliminate all of the FB stalking.

  14. [...] on Facebook I found interesting: Oxford University Press/OUPblog.com  – 8 Reasons to Unfriend Someone on Facebook All Facebook.com – The 12 Step Recovery Guide For Being Unfriended on [...]

  15. [...] Facebooking Posted on May 31, 2010 by Miss G. A recent conversation with a friend stirred up a debate for the use of ‘de-friend’ on Facebook. He argued that the official term for removing a friend from your Facebook list is ‘un-friend’ , and not ‘de-friend’. Which was true – in an article published by the Oxford University Press, it states that the word unfriend is the New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year (he forwarded the article to me by the way), and gives 8 reasons why people would unfriend their friends on Facebook. Check it out here : http://blog.oup.com/2009/11/unfriend-facebook/. [...]

  16. [...] centaines d’amis. Pourtant les raisons de supprimer un ami ne manquent pas.Le blog du Oxford American Dictionnary justement en énumérait 7 (8-1 pour la blague). 1/ Les amis qui vous spamment. 2/ Ceux dont vous [...]

  17. Ariel

    They always post annoying and cynical responses to all of your status updates.

  18. Sionn

    I just unfriended someone a few minutes ago, due to his political opinions. Back in high school, he was a relatively cool person, a great artist and someone I enjoyed hanging out with. In the twenty-two years since we last saw one another, he’s become a ridged neo-con, a Tea Party enthusiast and someone I just don’t care to spend time with. God forbid you have a differing opinion than he does, as he’s something of a shut-in and will dredge up a neo-con, Glen Beck laced argument should your comment be critical of the right, at all times of the day. After his last attack, I pulled up my friend page and cut him off of it. I miss the guy he used to be in high school, because he certainly isn’t that person any longer. I don’t need ‘frenemies’.

  19. Ching Chang Chong

    I ‘un-friended’ someone just yesterday. It felt strange but yet I felt that a great burden had been lifted off my shoulders (I had been contemplating ‘un-friending’ this individual for some time). This was an individual I had worked with on a couple of professional projects 13+ years ago and had kept up with them somewhat over the years. I continued to offer moral support for this persons professional endeavors and I thought of this person as certainly more than an acquaintance, thus I did not feel funny or awkward about sending a friend request to this person when they appeared on Facebook a couple of years ago. Well, for some reason, for the past year or so, every time I posted a comment about something they had posted on their ‘wall’ my response would get inexplicably deleted or hidden (as God is my witness I was not posting inappropriate or irrelevant stuff). However, my wall was constantly getting spammed by this person promoting their latest pet project and so on and so forth. On top of that, the last time they responded to anything I posted on their wall and actually left up- the response was pretty much a semi-veiled insult. WOW! Ohhhh-kay. Basically, had this been real fife and that had happened at a party in front of some people, I would’ve made a response like “Well alright then. I’m just gonna go stand over there.” Then I would quietly slip out of the party.
    Well, just yesterday, I had another post deleted/hidden for reasons completely unknown to me so I just said to myself “You know what? Screw this. I’m done with this.” And I did it. I even went on and ‘un-liked’ all of the FB pages for their pet projects as well. I’m not gonna be a billboard anymore for someone who obviously doesn’t give a flying flip about me.
    I wish them all the best in their future endeavors but I’m not helping anymore.

  20. Colsen

    I un-friended someone yesterday. Her name was Ally Veselak and she called me the a word and a butt sniffer.

  21. Robin

    I did a major purge of work friends a few months back. turned out that they were maliciously putting my name to rumors going around at work and I was getting nasty emails through facebook from them. Not all of them were doing it but I thought it was best to remove everyone that I currently work with. Things at work are much better now, they now know it is not me reporting them for their posts related to work and getting them in trouble.

  22. Kelvin

    If i cannot click there profile pictures = delete
    If they dont message me back but update their status = delete! There are some funny examples on http://www.definemen.com/2012/01/12-clear-reasons-to-delete-block-or-unfriend-you-on-facebook/

  23. Judy

    I unfriended someone when I realized that all I ever got from her was political commentary, contrary to my beliefs. I had never met this woman. We attended the same school many years back, but not at the same time. It wouldn’t occur to me that she would be hurt, because she had no idea who I was. Once I unfriended her, she asked me about it. I told her why, saying I thought we had nothing in commmon, but would be happy to be her friend; suggested she write me a letter telling me about herself. She then checked my posts, agreed that we had nothing in common. She also called me names. It seems to me that common sense should enter into this. How can you be upset at being unfriended by someone you’ve never truly been friends with?

  24. george

    I just unfriended myself.

  25. Ray

    I unfriend people with vastly different viewpoints from me – and who constantly post about them. In particular, liberals who just love Obama and gay marriage. Really? What could be worse.

  26. BB

    I’m considering removing a friend that I’ve known for more than 12 years. I’ve had a horrible year–job loss, disappointment with a major project, three deaths in my family, and I was just diagnosed with heart disease and must undergo a cardiac cath. He has not supported me and/or offered his condolences on any of these major life issues though he’s apparently following my updates. A couple of times, he posted inappropriate, insensitive jokes on my wall.

    I removed another friend, because she too showed a lack of support, and I was tired of the way her every message had a: *sigh*, *giggles*,*huge grin*, etc.

  27. [...] v. [with obj.] informal remove (someone) from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking site: she broke up with her boyfriend, but she hasn’t unfriended [...]

  28. Lauren

    Ray needs to take a look in the mirror if he can’t handle someone not agreeing with everything that he believes.

  29. Monte

    Do you have another reason? Tell us about it!

    After reading the above blog I do have a reason to unfriend myself from my former employers company website. I used to work for a real estate company as sales and marketing in Montenegro. I am looking to unfriend myself, however I suggested many people to befriend the company, which they duly did.

    However as I am no longer employed there and more so, she has refused to pay me my commissions on sales as agreed. As it turns out the contracts I have are useless or incomplete and I have realised that some people think its OK to treat people like this.

    She is not a person I would like a friend to do business with.I have resigned to the fact that I have lost a substantial amount of time and money. However I would like to inform all people I suggested befriend the company of my concerns and explain how to unfriend the company facebook page.

    I am worried about the legal implications of doing this via facebook! ie in a private message to 107 people!!!
    Any advice would be kindly accepted.

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