What Happens When you Delete 70% of your Facebook Friends?


After a brief conversation with a (real life) friend of mine about how they had recently gone on a cleanse of their Facebook friends, I felt compelled to do the same, since I’ve never really deleted anyone since I got it, almost 6 years ago.

Before I started this tedious task, I had around 1100 friends, and now I’m sitting at a comfortable 350.

Something I wasn’t quite expecting, since I find myself to be quite a socially orientated person, was just how addictive it was, pressing the unfriend button. At first it was just for inactive accounts (which had accumulated over the years to about 100+), before moving onto people who I kind of knew, but wouldn’t really say hello if I saw them on the street.

Something which make me laugh and blush in equal measure, was the amount of people I had accepted purely because I found them attractive at some point in my life. I was peeling back and deleting layers of my teenage crushes that had since disseminated into nothing, from which they began.


What it taught me about Facebook

Something that I found in this little exercise is just how much Facebook doesn't want me to get rid of my friends. I’ll explain...

There’s no option to mass delete friends, and unfriending people (at least on desktop) is much more long winded process than adding. To add a friend, it takes one click. To delete someone, I have to hover, scroll, click and wait for a few seconds. It’s weirdly buggy, and sometimes I have to do it two or three times for it to actually confirm I’ve removed someone. I started to doubt whether this was a bug or an intention barrier between me ditching my digital acquaintances.

Facebook's algorithms kicked into gear. Within days of going through the mass-delete, I was seeing “People you my know” banners much more frequently than before. Facebook was treating me like an anorexic child, trying to fatten me up with spoonfuls of digital smiles. As well as showing me suggested friends, I could tell I had been thrown into the ‘fewer-friends-club’ and added into the algorithms that encourage other people to add me. I never used to get friend requests from strangers, but now I get 3 or 4 a day. Some of them are people I know, some of them just have a few mutual friends. I’m 99% sure I haven’t become popular overnight.


What’s changed?

I’ve filtered a lot of the crap from my online streams, and it’s pretty great.

I make sure to only follow people I actually want to, on every other social network - Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Strava and more. It feels great to have been able to pull Facebook in line with everything else.


My feed:

My feed is now an accumulation of posts, pictures, links and videos that I actually give a shit about. This is a refreshing change for me. I’ve found myself having to restrain myself from liking everything on my feed, when I’m having a quick scroll down my feed in the morning, eating breakfast. Everything is relevant.



I’ve liked a lot of pages on my Facebook - bands, companies, websites and more. I get to see more of these. It seems that for every time Julie from Blackpool put up a picture of her dead goldfish I was missing out on a post about my favourite band’s new album. Of course, they’re hypothetical, but nonetheless, it comes back to the main point that crap is now replaced with relevant content.


The time I spend on Facebook:

I spend more time on Facebook than I wish I did. Partly because I’m a little bit addicted to social networking, and partly because it plays a big role in my job in Social Media.


I now find that I spend a lot less time on Facebook, but yet seem to catch up, digest, and enjoy a lot more of that time. I’m getting more for less, which in the real world is a good bargain.


Laurence Kellett
Laurence Kellett
Cats, coffee, bikes, boards, martial arts and modesty. Question Everything .

1 Comment

  1. Alex Rengel says:

    I’ve been visualising myself doing this for quite some time now. I think it’s time I went on an un-friending rampage. Do you find that Google+ is generally more of a relevant and stimulating read, as opposed to scrolling through Facebook?

    Your blog posts are awesome and I’ve begun to follow some of your social media, although I feel it would now be counter-productive to friend you on Facebook.

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