Facebook has allowed people to communicate more easily with one another over the past few years. While it’s been good for families and relatives to easily keep in touch, people have friended just about anyone, whether it be your family or a guy/girl you met once at a party. Since the advent of social media, the word “friend” had become overused and its meaning diminished.
Unfriending has become the easiest and most polite way of saying, “I don’t want to associate with you anymore.” Some Facebook users go through their friend lists and choose who to unfriend for various reasons, also known as a Facebook friend cull. Friend culling has also extended to other social media outlets such as Twitter and Instagram. The culled party often doesn’t know that they have been unfriended. Who Deleted Me, in essence, threw the covers off of these Facebook friend cullers. Despite the app becoming extremely popular on the App Store and Google Play Store, Facebook told the app creators that they had to pull the plug.
“Who Deleted Me was intended to be a useful tool to enhance users’ Facebook experience, but Facebook did not see it the same way,” said developer Anthony Kuske, who created Who Deleted Me. Since the app required users to submit their contact lists, Facebook saw it as a violation of their policies regarding privacy and personal information. A Facebook spokesperson stated that developers need to “respect the limits we’ve placed on Facebook functionality,” which, according to Facebook, includes not informing the culled about who culled them. This statement is under the Proper Use section of the Facebook Platform Policy.
In a society where the average 18-29 year old Facebook user has over 300 friends, these unfriendings may go unnoticed, especially since some people have friend counts in the thousands. Combine that with liking products, services, and other fan pages, and the Facebook news feed gets cluttered quickly. The app could also see who deactivated or blocked you in addition to who deleted you. Although blocking a user deletes them as well, the block function acts as if the person doing the blocking doesn’t exist at all to the user that was blocked.
How many friends can you keep in your social circle without people feeling left out or ignored? A 1992 study showed that each person is only capable of 150 active, stable relationships. This is known as Dunbar’s number. British anthropologist Robin Dunbar said that “this limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size…the limit imposed by neocortical processing capacity is simply on the number of individuals with whom a stable interpersonal relationship can be maintained.”
Over 20 years later, Dunbar is still sticking to his guns. “It is important to remember that the 150 is just one layer in a series of layers of acquaintanceship within which we sit. Beyond the 150 are at least two further layers (one at 500 and one at 1,500), which correspond to acquaintances (people we have a nodding acquaintance with) and faces we recognize,” Dunbar said in an interview with Technology Review.
Dunbar also commented on the devaluation of the word friend. “All that seems to be happening when people add more than 150 friends on Facebook is that they simply dip into these normal higher layers. If you like, Facebook has muddied the waters by calling them all friends, but really they are not,” he added.
If you’re the kind of person who needs to keep track of who’s in (or out) of your social circles, there is also another app available called SadlyUnfriended. Unfortunately, as of July 21, it has also been disabled, leaving the Internet without an app that shows who deleted you.