Read This Before You Unfriend Someone

Photographed by Winnie Au.
Unfriending someone on social media can be a delicate situation. On the one hand, you’re really not digging what your friend (or coworker, or relative) is posting. But on the other, you don’t want to screw up your in-person relationship. You adore your BFF, but the lovey-dovey status updates have got to stop.

In honor of National Unfriend Day (yes, it’s a thing), we’ll walk you through how to navigate social media breakups, however small or large. As it turns out, most social networks now have the digital equivalent of a "mute" button for annoying follows. So while some folks may truly deserve an unfollow or a block, for others, you can secretly get some peace from their endless updates, without them ever knowing. Facebook and Twitter must have heard our muffled cries of unfriending anguish.

From muting someone who goes off on epic tweet storms every other day to unfollowing the cousin who can’t stop spewing bizarre political views, here’s how to “unfriend” in any scenario.
1 of 7
Photo: Courtesy Facebook.

Your friend is on vacation and posting amazing, jealousy-inducing beach shots non-stop. You don’t want to unfriend her; you just want the barrage to end. Fair enough. Head to her profile, and then tap the "Following" button below her name. There, you can choose to unfollow her rather than completely unfriending.

When you unfollow someone, you're still friends: You can still chat with that person on Messenger, and you can visit one another's full profiles. The only thing the unfollow button does is prevent the person's Facebook posts from showing up in your feed. The change isn't permanent; you can head back to that person's profile and switch back to Default at any time. He or she will have no idea you've done this, so no feelings get hurt.

Unless someone is spouting off about something truly offensive, this is likely the unfriending solution you've been dreaming of.
2 of 7
Photo: Courtesy Facebook.
The elections are still a year away, but the political posts have gone way too far. Why are you still "friends" with that guy you shared a Calculus class with in high school, anyway? If you haven't talked to someone in years, your unfriending will probably go completely unnoticed.

To unfriend, go to the person's profile page and tap the "Friends" button. Then, you can click "unfriend" and be done with it; the former friend won't get any sort of notification. You'll no longer be able to post to one another's pages, nor will your posts show up in each other's feeds.

But what if it is someone you still see and talk to in real life? If you want to unfriend him or her, do it. You don't need to feel bad about it. If you interact with someone more on other social networks, you're just organizing your digital social life. If that's not the case, guess what? You have control over your social media feeds. You can choose what you want to see and what you don't want to see — and who gets the privilege of peeking into your personal life.
3 of 7
Photo: Courtesy Facebook.
If your unfriended ex still keeps messaging you (“Come back baby!”), you’ve gone way past the “polite” unfriending zone. You can give that person a warning message first, or just wield your digital-ban hammer (we prefer the latter). Head to the lock icon in the upper-right corner of your Facebook page — or tap More, Settings, and Account Settings in the Facebook app. Then, select "Blocking." In the second section, you can type a name or email address to block someone. Those people can’t see anything you post on your timeline, they can’t tag you or invite you to events, and they can’t start a conversation with you.

In this menu on the web, you can also block app invites or event invites from friends who abuse those privileges. Nowadays, it seems most people have toned down those Candy Crush invites, but there's always that one person...
4 of 7
Photo: Courtesy Twitter.

Like Facebook's unfollow, Twitter has an option that lets you still follow someone while silencing what that person is saying: the mute feature. When you mute someone, it removes his or her tweets from your feed, but you can still direct message one another. You will not get any push notifications about activity from a muted Twitter user.

You can also mute someone you don't follow if you don't want to see that handle's retweets or notifications about its @ replies. To mute, tap the "more" button at the bottom of a tweet and select "mute." Or, head to someone's profile, click the gear icon, and click "mute" from there.
5 of 7
Photo: Courtesy Twitter.
And then, of course, you can head to someone's profile and tap that check mark on the upper right for the option to unfollow, removing that person's tweets from your stream. Like when you unfriend someone, the unfollowed person won't get a notification. And unless that person has fewer than 50 followers, he or she probably won't notice (at least not without the help of a service that tracks that sort of thing).

People's tastes and tweets evolve. Maybe you used to use Twitter for joyous baby-animal pictures, but now you use it to keep an eye on the news. That @OtterEmergency account that brought you so much joy six months ago just may not be doing it for you anymore.
6 of 7
Photo: Courtesy Twitter.
If someone is harassing you in any way, report and block him or her. When you tap "report," select "It's abusive or harmful" (unless the tweet falls under one of the other listed categories). Then, block that person and never look back.

If, for some reason, you change your mind about the blocked status in the future, you can head into the "Privacy" section of Twitter's settings, go to "Blocked Accounts," and un-block the user.
7 of 7
Photo: Courtesy Instagram.
Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t offer any way to organize or manage who you follow; it’s all just one big stream. If one person is posting too much, or posting things you don’t care for anymore, your only choice is to unfollow.

The good news is: Many people have so many followers, they won’t notice or care that you unfollowed them. If the culprit is a friend who relentlessly posts the same image to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at the same time, you can safely unfollow that person on the networks where you don’t want to see repeat posts. After all, you’re still going to see that person's images somewhere.