What’s Your Facebook Friend Policy?

downloadLately I’ve been getting a lot of Facebook friend requests. This is most likely due to the visibility of my Kickstarter project, but I think most people on Facebook probably get a few Facebook requests every month. At least.

For a long time now, even before all the board game stuff happened, my personal policy for accepting friend requests comes down to just one rule: We need to have met in person before I accept your friend request.

That’s it. While Facebook is completely virtual, for me it’s grounded in some real-world, in-person connection. If a complete stranger friends me, I’m not going to accept the request. If a non-stranger whom I’ve never met friends me, I’m still probably not going to accept the request. It’s nothing against them. It’s just where I draw the line on Facebook.

Does it make sense? Probably not. I have what I consider very real friendships with people online whom I’ve never met. Of course, it’s for those people that I make exceptions and friend them on Facebook.

It doesn’t even really make sense for privacy reasons–all of my posts on Facebook are public, so anyone can see them even if I haven’t “friended” them. Heck, on LinkedIn I’ll accept a request from anyone. I don’t know how most of those people find me, but I don’t use LinkedIn, so it feels like a non-factor to let them connect with me if they want.

But I feel like I have to draw the line somewhere, and it almost always feels right to draw it at in-person contact.

Where do you draw the line? What’s your policy for accepting Facebook friend requests?

12 thoughts on “What’s Your Facebook Friend Policy?”

  1. My FB policy is that I can immediately tell from his or her profile that he or she shares a hobby with me, whether it’s Magic: the Gathering, board games, or League of Legends. After that I feel comfortable enough knowing we share a common interest we can easily talk about. 🙂

  2. I used to be very similar to you. I have “friends” on Facebook whom I have met in person and knew personally at some point – e.g. high school friends or people whom I attended an intensive multi-week training workshop – but haven’t seen in many years. Since I don’t feel close to them, I put them in the acquaintance category – this limits the posts I see and interaction with them. This left my feed reserved for friends I interact with frequently and colleagues around the world. That was fine for a while. Until I got appointed to an officer position of an international organization. Now, I feel obligated to accept friend requests from any of the many, many people who answer to me in the organization, regardless of whether I have met them in person. I find it makes it slightly easier to keep tabs on topics that may be of importance to the organization. I personally am slightly less comfortable, but I think it is better on the whole. Plus, with the ability to modify privacy settings for different groups of people, I can compartmentalize who can see what on my profile page.

    • Katherine: It’s interesting how your rules might change when your job changes. Do you feel like everything you post on Facebook now has to be work-friendly?

  3. I don’t seem to get friend requests from people I don’t know, but I also have my profile set so you can’t search for it. I do have 6 friend requests sitting in my inbox from people that I don’t particularly want to be friends with. I know all of them, but either we aren’t close and I don’t see the point, or I actively don’t like them and I don’t need to have any contact with them online. (I’d say ever but one is a relative I see on a regular basis; thank God he’s never brought it up.) Not one of those six people has ever contacted me to ask why I haven’t accepted them so I guess my strategy of “ignore and pretend I don’t have outstanding friend requests” is working.

    • Dawn: I’m glad that strategy is working for you. I’ve done that sometimes too, and fortunately no one has ever brought it up. 🙂

  4. I’m with Nhi on this. If I know you (and think you’re at least an okay person) I’ll approve it. If I don’t know you but we share a lot of hobbies/philosophies, that’s generally okayed too. And FB can be (for better or worse) a networking tool. I’m e-friends with Matt Leacock, whom I have never met, but am pretty psyched to have in my friends list.

  5. When I was teaching I would occasionally get my students find me on facebook and send a friend request (my name is pretty unique, I’m sure you’ll understand Jamey!). However the students were never 100% certain of my first name and my account is pretty locked down on privacy so they couldn’t see a profile picture or anything other than a name. So one time one of my form students says “Sir! I added you on facebook last night! Are you going to accept?” and I responded “Oh…Hannah I’m not on Facebook”
    “Oh…oh crap, who did I just try to friend?!”

    At which point the silly story of her trying to add a random stranger on facebook went around the class and all of the students thought I didn’t have facebook and stopped trying to add me. It was an outright lie of course but it made my life so much easier!

    • Gino: Ha ha…that’s very clever! I’ve also heard of teachers changing their Facebook name so students can’t search for it.

  6. Appreciate your view. I believe in relationships being real, so to me that means we have met OR had a unique connection (recently I accepted the older brother of a friend in high school who committed suicide that was a dear friend, could not say no, though I never met him f2f). I have had so many people tell me my FB strategy is not correct because I am also an author. But my FB, my strategies. :). Real connections. Real relationships. I am the same on LinkedIn and in part on LinkedIn I only want to connect real people that I know, like and trust.


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