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Here's how to lose a bunch of friends on Facebook

File photo | Bloomberg | Scott Eells/File photo | Bloomberg | Scott Eells

If you think your circle of Facebook friends is getting too big, go ahead and rant about election results or complain about the rain.

Depressing posts or political gripes are among the fastest ways to get "de-friended," the New York Times reported.

And this way, you don't have to reject anyone.

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But to make sure the de-friending process goes through, consider the gender of those you wish to irk.

According to research from Nielsen, women are more likely to remove Facebook "friends" who post offensive comments, while men are more likely to give online peddlers the boot.

A post along the lines of "Sarah Palin should be running Canada – I hate dogs – I wish I were dead – and will you buy my next book?" is bound to antagonize just about everyone.

The Nielsen findings are bang on, judging by anecdotal evidence.

Facebook purges tend to coincide with political events, The Globe and Mail reported.

During Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's election in 2010, Facebook users who either raved against him or proselytized online risked landing on the virtual guillotine. And so did those who spoke out against tiresome political tirades. Elaisha Stokes, a documentary filmmaker, said she was un-friended after this post: "I hope it's not four years of Ford-hating status updates, because I'm bored already."

Most people won't notice if they're de-friended by folks they barely know. Among co-workers, however, the etiquette of "un-friending" gets more delicate.

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Globe and Mail advice columnist David Eddie recently fielded a question from a reader who de-friended a colleague "because I couldn't stand her comments, complaints and frequent posting."

When the colleague brought it up, the reader claimed the un-friending was accidental – but didn't re-friend her.

Mr. Eddie shed light on the reader's infraction. "De-friending" someone, whether online or not, is a stronger gesture than some seem to realize," he pointed out.

His advice? "Re-friend" the coworker and use those nifty Facebook widgets to unsubscribe from her updates. "No more inane posts polluting your feed and she's none the wiser!" Mr. Eddie wrote.

After all, no one said Facebook friends are for real.

Do you make a habit of booting Facebook friends off your list? Can you relate to the reasons others delete friends?

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About the Author

Adriana Barton is based in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. Her article on growing up with counterculture parents is published in a McGraw-Hill anthology, right after an essay by Margaret Atwood. She wishes her last name didn’t start with B. More

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