How to Delete All of/A Lot of Your Friends on Facebook

Read more on this topic in the three part series:
How to Get the Most Out of Google+
It's Not You, It's Facebook

By Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD

So you are thinking that maybe you just have too many "friends" on Facebook. Or, more precisely, too many people you don’t really know that you’ve "friended" on Facebook. There are people who you used to be friends with, folks you met once, friends of friends, and a few people that you don’t remember friending at all. Perhaps it is time to make a change. Something… drastic.

Before you take any serious measures, let’s look at the concept of mass unfriending. I feel that it is a natural though rare occurrence for users of social media networks. As an example, consider what happens when people get a new smartphone. At first, they typically use every feature as much as possible to test it out. Then they slowly scale back the features that are too time consuming or do not provide the benefits expected. For example, they might set their phone to immediately announce every email, and then a week or two later cut back on the notifications just for text messages and actual phone calls because the frequent beeps were too annoying.

Now look at Twitter. Even though Twitter is a younger social network than Facebook, it moves faster and people can usually follow others without request permission. The result is that a lot people wound following a lot more people (and automated accounts) than they intended. So for the last two years there have been regularly circulating blog posts from people considering unfollowing everyone. While it is a big decision, it is certainly not out of the ordinary.

But Facebook is not a smartphone and not Twitter. For many it is the culmination of years of daily socializing. It has direct ties to everything. So the decision to unfriend everyone on Facebook is more serious, but as I wrote on Vision Monday here, when it is simply too out of control, sometimes it is best to just start over. And remember, it isn’t like you are actually refusing to be friends with people in real life. They still have many ways to get a hold you.

So now that we’ve established that it is OK to massively cut ties on Facebook, how does one do it? First, think about who you want defriend. Is it a clearly defined group of people, a mix of people, or do you want to start from a clean slate? If you are going to just delete a handful of people (less than 50) do it by hand. Click on "account", then "edit Friends." Select "all friends" and click on the "x" to the right of their name, one by one. Simple.

If you are going to delete everyone or large lists of friends, you simply can’t do it by hand. I calculated that it would take me about 6 hours of continuous clicking for me to delete all my friends. You aren’t going to do that, so you need a little help.

Step by Step for deleting all your friends on Facebook:
  1. Download Firefox for Windows (if you don't have it already).
  2. Using Firefox, download the GreaseMonkey add-on, and the restart the browser.
  3. Download the FacebookDeletes script.
  4. Click on "account" then “edit Friends.”
  5. Click on "Recently Interacted" and select "All Friends" OR the Friend List you want to delete.
  6. Below "Facebook" and above your friend list it now says, "Facebook Delete Friends." Click on the down area to open the dashboard.
  7. Select "Delete all friends in the next pages too."
  8. Click "Select All." There will now be checks in front of each friend’s name.
  9. Unselect any individuals that you don’t want to unfriend, such as family.
  10. MAKE ABSOUTELY SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS. Think about it for a while if you need to.
  11. Click "Delete all EXCEPT Selected" and wait for a while for it to complete, especially if you have a lot of friends.
  12. Enjoy your fresh, empty Facebook.

Keep in mind that Facebook does not like these automated scripts, so this may not work forever. But usually with a little searching, you can find another work-around for almost any problem.

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD, FAAO, Bright Eyes Family Vision Care, Tampa, Fla., is an optometrist specializing in the vision of infants and children. A social media evangelist, he helped create "Peripheral Vision" which educates eyecare professionals about social media. Dr. Warford was a speaker at the first CLICK Conference last year. He is the chair of the social media committee of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and is chair of the Florida Optometric Association's Children's Vision Committee. He is a graduate of the Illinois College of Optometry and is an active volunteer in many charitable organizations. He founded Foursquare Day in March 2010.