Got an oversharing Facebook buddy who can’t stop with the food photos, a sullen friend who’s bringing you down with all his depressing updates, or a frenemy who you don’t want peeking at your Facebook photo albums?
Well, you could always hit the “unfriend” button, but doing so might seem a bit extreme—and hey, what if they find out?
Luckily, there are a few of ways to keep marginal Facebook pals at arm’s length without cutting them off altogether, starting with…
1. Add chatterboxes to your “Acquaintances” list
So, you added a long-lost friend you remember fondly from high school, but now they’re constantly peppering your news feed with random links about their favorite TV shows, silly cat photos, and endless snapshots of their kids.
It’s not that you want to slam the door on all their updates, mind you—just, well, most of them.
Here’s a quick, relatively painless solution: add your distant yet ever-chatty friend to your Acquaintances list.
Once you do, Facebook will automatically pare down the number of news feed updates you receive from them to a bare minimum.
For example, you might still get notified that a far-flung Facebook acquaintance got married or landed a new job, but you’ll get sweet relief from the daily kitty snapshots.
Indeed, putting an oversharing friend on your Acquaintance list makes for the perfect way to dial down their endless updates without silencing them altogether.
And don’t worry: your friend will never know that you relegated them to your Acquaintance list.
To add a friend to your Acquaintance list, just…
- Hover your mouse over their name on their timeline or in your news feed.
- When you see the pop-up window with their profile photo and a “Friends” button, hover your mouse over that button to reveal a new pop-up menu.
- See the “Acquaintances” option? Go ahead and select it.
Oh, and one more thing: if you ever want to hide a post of your own from the folks on your Acquaintances list, you can choose the “Friends except Acquaintances” option from the audience selector (the pull-down menu that sits right next to the Post button).
2. Block downers from your news feed
Here’s another scenario: you have a pal who just won’t stop with the links to depressing news stories, the “I hate my job” updates, the bitter diatribes against the politician you voted for, and the off-color, not-so-funny jokes.
Now, maybe you’re not quite ready to ban your bummer of a buddy from the updates and photos you share with fellow Facebook friends.
That said, here’s a pal whose name you’d rather not see in your news feed at all—not even if they got a promotion, had a kid, or managed to eke out a good day.
Well, guess what: you can completely block updates from that downer of a friend in just a few clicks:
- Again, hover your mouse over the friend’s name on their timeline or in your news feed, then wait for the window with their profile photo to appear.
- When it does, hover your mouse over the Following button, then select “Unfollow [name of friend].”
- Using the Facebook app for iOS or Android? Find an update for a friend in your news feed, tap the little downward arrow in the corner of the update, then tap “Unfollow [name of friend].”
- Last but not least, enjoy the silence.
Note: You can unfollow whole batches of friends using the Facebook app for Android and iOS. Tap the More button (in the bottom-right corner of the screen for iOS, or the top-right corner for Android), scroll down and tap News Feed Preferences, tap “Unfollow people to hide their posts,” then start tapping faces.
3. Banish a frenemy to your Restricted list
Say you foolishly added your conniving boss as a Facebook friend your first week on the job … and now you’re regretting it. You’re thinking twice about every photo upload and every update you post, but “unfriending” your boss isn’t really an option. What to do?
Try this: put him or her on your “Restricted” list—a “friend list” for friends and frenemies who you’re this close to unfriending.
Once you banish someone to your Restricted list, they’ll no longer see any of your updates, photos, or other Facebook activity—or at least, nothing that you haven’t flagged as “Public” in your privacy settings.
In other words, putting a frenemy on your Restricted list is as close as you can get to unfriending someone without actually unfriending them.
Here’s how you do it:
- Once more, hover your mouse over their name in your news feed or on their timeline, wait for the pop-up window to appear, then click the Friends button.
- Select “Add to another list” from the menu, scroll all the way down, then click Restricted.
Note: While Facebook won’t notify a friend that you’ve put them on your Restricted list, an eagle-eyed frenemy may well notice that they’re not seeing your “friends only” updates anymore. Also, you’ll still have to “unfollow” people on your Restricted list to keep their Facebook updates out of your news feed.
Want to see a list of all the friends whose posts are blocked from your news feed?
First, go to your news feed, hover your mouse over the News Feed link in the top-left corner of the page, click the little gear icon, then click Edit Preferences.
A pop-up window should appear with lists of friends who you’ve seen the most in the past week, along with a second list of unfollowed friends. Change your mind of any of them? Just click the “+ Follow” button next to a name.
Note: This article was originally published in February 2013, and has been updated and expanded to account for Facebook’s ever-changing privacy and sharing settings.