A few people have asked my opinion about unfriending people on Facebook and what my own personal guidelines are for this.
So I thought I’d answer in this post.
Thanks to God, I have many friends who know me personally. And I value their friendships very much. Interestingly, many of those friends never use Facebook.
Some of them do. And I have “online” friends that I’ve never met in person (yet). And then there are acquaintances, usually people who have read my work.
But here are 5 specific kinds of people that I have unfriended from Facebook over the years. All of these apply to unfollowing people on Twitter also.
1. Those who are not real people, but who use fake Facebook IDs.
It may seem strange to you that a person who claims to be a Christian would do this, but it’s happened in at least two cases that I know of.
The reasons why someone would create a fake Facebook account is often for malicious purposes. For instance, I know of some people who created them because they were banned from various Facebook groups and they wanted to get back into those groups. So they created fake Facebook accounts.
It’s not hard to tell who these people are. They usually have a pattern of disparaging others and/or raising money for the real people behind the accounts. They often traffic in slander.
To my mind, fake Facebook aliases should always be defriended. It’s not only a violation of Facebook’s rules, but the accounts typically exist for injurious purposes.
2. People who slander and/or gossip about others on Facebook.
Over the years, I’ve had a few Facebook “friends” (people I never met but who professed to be Christians) who trafficked in slandering some of my friends. Some of the accusations leveled against my friends were not only false, but ridiculous.
As soon as I became aware of this, I immediately unfriended them (and unfollowed them on Twitter).
If a person — even a professing Christian — defames a brother or sister in Christ, they are slandering us, for “we are members of one another.”
According to the Bible, the sin of slander is just as serious as murder, theft, and adultery. Scripture exhorts us to “have nothing to do with” such people, until they repent (see Titus 3:10 and Romans 16:17).
Feeding slanderers is to participate in their sin and listening to gossip is like drinking poison:
“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” (Proverbs 18:8, 26:22)
Jon Zens, one of the most respected Christians of our time, wrote the best article I’ve ever read on the subject of gossip and slander in 2007. You can check it out here.
Someone once wisely said, “Don’t invite people to your garden who trample on your flowers.”
Martin Luther said, “With the wolves you cannot be too severe. With the weak sheep you cannot be too gentle.”
A genuine disciple of Jesus is a person who treats others the same way they want to be treated in every situation. This is clear from Jesus, James, and John. It’s the very definition of love.
So the question for the true disciple of Jesus is always, “how would I feel if this person was treating my wife, my husband, my child, or me this way?” This is the very question that should be applied to every situation. (I discuss what this looks like specifically in The Deeper Journey: Part 2.)
“It is a sin to believe evil of others, but it is seldom a mistake.” ~ H.L. Mencken
In addition, those who silently support slanderers instead of avoiding them, as Scripture teaches, aren’t your real friends. On that score, Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Before you conclude that everything you read about another person on the Web is true, go back and review what Jesus and Paul were accused of during their day.
I recently defended Rick Warren, Dallas Willard, Brennan Manning, and others when certain “professing Christians” were spewing poison against them.
3. Those who put up risqué or pornographic photographs.
Again, I don’t “get” how a person who claims to follow Jesus can do this. We all get enough temptation in our world, we don’t need a Facebook friend posting seductive photos in front of us.
4. People who harass and bully others.
I’ve had a few Facebook “friends” who persisted in trying to convince me of something. And I defriended them.
It’s one thing to share an idea; it’s another to try to shove that idea down a person’s throat. People who have a dark agenda usually do this sort of thing . . . trying to turn others against someone they don’t like.
We have not so learned Jesus Christ.
5. People who constantly send annoying personal messages.
For instance, I once had a Facebook friend who would send a private message to a whole list of their friends about the energy drink he was promoting.
Once or twice is okay, but this was constant.
If he kept his promotions on his Facebook Wall, I wouldn’t mind. There was nothing harmful about what he was promoting. And Facebook Walls exist to share things, including things you’ve created or believe in.
But sending people private messages about it constantly is a bit much.
So that’s it. I realize that others are more stringent on who they defriend, but those are my 5 reasons.
See also The Art of Being a Jerk Online