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Defriending vs. Blocking on Facebook

by Mindi Orth
Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images

When someone uses Facebook for rude, threatening or otherwise unwanted interaction, you can take action to prevent that person from contacting you and gaining access to your timeline. Although some use the terms “defriending” and “blocking” synonymously, the two actions affect your Facebook account differently. Understanding what happens when you delete a friend versus blocking a friend can help to determine which action offers the best solution for your particular situation.

Deleting a Friend

Choosing to delete, or “defriend” someone takes away that person’s right to view any portion of your timeline that isn’t public. This means that, unless the security settings for your status updates and photos are “Public,” the individual can’t see what you post. Deleting the person from your Friends list, however, doesn’t prevent that person from sending you messages or a new friend request. To delete a friend, navigate to her timeline and position your mouse over the “Friend” icon until a dialog box opens and then select the “Unfriend” option. Alternatively, click “Friends” from your Facebook timeline and locate the person you want to delete from your list of friends. Position your mouse over the “Friend” icon beside her name and then select the “Unfriend” option from the dialog box that opens.

Blocking Someone

Blocking someone from your Facebook timeline prevents nearly all communication between you and the blocked individual. Your profile no longer appears in his search results and he no longer can send you messages or use the chat feature to contact you. Likewise, you can’t view his profile or chat or send messages as the long as the block remains in effect. If you both use a particular app or are members of the same group, however, the block won’t prevent communication within those environments. To block a specific person, click the lock icon at the top of page and select the “How Do I Stop Someone from Bothering Me?” option. Type the person’s name and then click “Block.” Alternatively, navigate to the person’s timeline, click the drop-down arrow next to the Message icon and select the “Report/Block” option.

Using the Restricted List

Occasionally, you may want to limit what a friend can view on your page without deleting that person from your Friends list. Adding that person to your Restricted list allows you to maintain your friendship status, but automatically prevents her from seeing anything that you haven’t tagged her in or made public. This may come in handy if your boss, a particular coworker or even your mother-in-law is your Facebook friend. To add someone to the Restricted list, navigate to her timeline and position your mouse over the “Friend” icon until a dialog box opens. Select the “Add to Another List” option and then click “Restricted.” Alternatively, click “Friends” from your Facebook timeline and locate the person you want to add. Position your mouse over the “Friend” icon beside her name, select the “Add to Another List” option and then select “Restricted.”

Removing the Block

Whether you have defriended or blocked someone, you can undo the action if the situation changes. Removing a block, however, doesn’t automatically restore previous relationships. In both instances, you must send the person a friend request and he must accept the request before you can regain access to his profile. You can manage your blocked and restricted users under the Blocking section of your Facebook account privacy settings.

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