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Facebook “Phantom Friends” & How to Delete Them

Written on Thursday, August 2, 2012 by

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A few months ago Facebook closed millions of inactive accounts.  Unfortunately they didn’t delete all of these accounts from anyone’s pages—which meant you were suddenly stuck with a lot of “phantom friends”.

 

This has been an especially big problem with the larger Facebook pages like mine.  I woke one morning to find that I had over 5,400 “friends”—which meant I couldn’t add or delete anyone else until I found these phantom friends and deleted them.

 

The entire process took me days to complete with a lot of hits and misses along the way. One of the problems I encountered was that for some reason approximately 50 phantoms were blocked and I wasn’t able to remove them from my list.  To solve this I had to go through my list of 5,000+ and un-friend people who hadn’t visited my page in over a year.

 

Thankfully my learning curve should help you clean up your page in much less time and without as many glitches.

 

Here are the steps:

 

  1. Click your “Friends” link on your profile page.
  2. Scroll through your Friends list until you see profiles without pictures (like this)

 

  1. Hover over the name to make sure it isn’t a “real” friend; many people use the Facebook placeholder instead of photos.
  2. If no information pops up, it is a dead account.  Click on the name and a box will pop up telling you it is an inactive account.
  3. Click “un-friend”.
  4. Another pop up box will open saying you are no longer friends but DO NOT CLICK ‘OKAY’ or it will take you to the beginning.
  5. Leave the “Okay” box open, scroll to the next dead account and repeat step #3.

 

I learned the hard way about clicking “okay”.  When you do so, it takes you back to the top over and over again and when you have over 5,400 names to scroll through, it gets tedious very quickly.

 

One last tip, when you’re on your Friends list page, you can also type letters of the alphabet in the “search” section.  I found many phantom accounts this way but the majority of them weren’t searchable.  Scrolling is, unfortunately, the best way to find all those dead accounts.

 

The Conservative conspiracy theorist in me wonders if liberal Facebook accounts have to go through this phantom friend drama, too.  If there are any liberals reading this, I’d love to hear from you…

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