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How to Trim Down Your Facebook Friend List Without Losing Connections

It is a new year and some people are eager to de-clutter their lives, their homes, their businesses… I have seen a few people in the last week state that they will be unfriending some “fringe friends” on Facebook in order to be able to see more of their “real friends” in the News Feed. This makes sense in a way, especially in light of recent changes in Facebook’s News Feed algorithm. You also may have privacy concerns and want to limit who can see your more personal posts such as photos of your children.

The trouble with this is that the people  you may not know, or cannot remember, or perhaps never interacted with, connected with you for a reason. Maybe they met you at a networking event. Maybe they were curious about your business but just never got around to building a relationship with you. Maybe you both attended the same event together and they felt they had something in common with you.

The fact that they have not unfriended you yet indicated they want to stay connected, even if you aren’t particularly interested in the types of things they post. As anti-social as it sounds, it may be time to turn the mutual friendship into a one-way relationship, and you can do this by using the Follow feature on Facebook.

Follow is designed for people who want to be connected to someone without being Facebook Friends. When you Follow someone, you will only see their Public posts – not every baby picture, recipe or vacation highlight they share. Conversely, if you want to allow people to follow you but not see your personal posts, only posts you mark Public (say, posts that are business related) you can turn on the Follow feature on your personal Timeline. Here’s how.

1. Go to Account Settings (click the little gear top right of your Facebook)

2. Click on Followers on the left sidebar of the Account Settings area

3. Next to Who Can Follow Me, click on Everybody (your Friends will still see posts marked Friends, but Everybody will see posts marked Public)

4. Decide if you want your Followers (even non-friends) to be able to comment on your posts. I personally have left this as Everybody. If it is a problem later I can change it.

5. Decide if you want to get notified when people Follow you. I do not.

Turn on Follow Feature on Facebook


To see who is Following you (and who you Follow) click on the Friends section on your personal timeline. One of the tabs there will be for Followers. If there is a “Following” button by their name, you are also following them. If there is a “Follow” button then they have the feature turned on as well, and you can choose to follow them if you wish.

Now when you have something to post on your personal Timeline that you would not mind sharing with your Followers, and the Public (i.e. search engines!) be sure to change the Audience Selector to Public.

Change Audience Selector to Public

One thing to be aware of also is that your Audience Selector stays on that setting until you change it back so be aware that all your posts will be Public until you change it back to Friends. Usually I change it back right away so I don’t forget!

Now to streamline your Friends list, there are 2 ways  you can Unfriend people, and they will stay on as Followers. The reason they stay as Followers is that everyone is also added as a Follower when they Friend you.

One way is to visit the person’s Facebook Timeline, click the Friends button to get to the drop down menu where the Unfriend option is:

How to Unfriend Someone on Facebook

The other way is on your own personal Facebook Timeline find the Friends Tab on top under your Cover Image.

Facebook Friends Tab

Click on Friends and then you will see all of your Friends. You may have to keep scrolling. I cannot verify this but I have heard that they are listed in order of most recent interaction, so if you want to Unfriend those you have the lease interaction with you may have to scroll down quite a ways! You can also use the search box to find a particular person. Next to the person’s name click the Friends button to get to the drop down menu where the Unfriend option appears.

Unfriend Facebook Friend

When you Unfriend the person you will no longer get notifications or items in your News Feed about them, but they will stay your Follower unless or until they decide to Unfollow you. They will not know you have Unfriended them until they go to Unfriend you, and see that Unfollow is the option available, not Unfriend. There is no notification about Unfriending.

So as you can see, even though it does feel a little anti-social, allowing Followers is a way to trim down your Facebook Friend list without losing connection with people who truly do want to “follow” you.  You may find, like I have, that more people will Follow you intentionally vs. Friending you anyway, because they really want to just keep in touch but don’t necessarily need a personal Facebook relationship with you.

Another benefit is that when people Friend Request you if you ignore their request they do become Followers regardless of what action you take. This is another way to allow people to connect with you even if you do not personally know them. Remember they will only see items that are Public – it is up to you to decide which posts are Public.

I hope this helps. How do you feel about this feature?


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  1. Ann on January 6, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    I’ve always wondered about this; I’m know I’m following some & friends with lots more. I’ll have to go in and work on this.

    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      on January 6, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      Great – I am glad it was helpful!

  2. […] people use this strategy just to streamline their normal feeds; you can read about one example here. This can be handy as a legitimate strategy to make you feed more manageable and easier to follow. […]

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