I am always confounded by Facebook.  The social service is always changing things behind the scenes.  Nothing I look for a second time is ever found in the same place.  I wonder if that’s done by design or sheer arrogance?

My latest confoundidery happened last week when I discovered, for some reason, I had over 5,505 friends!  You can see in today’s screenshot of my Facebook page that number has dipped to 5,501 — I lose and gain friends all day long in bunches of threes and fours for reasons I have not yet been able to divine — and I have no idea how I was able to leap over the infamous and mean Facebook 5,000 friend barrier because I haven’t actively made any friends requests in over a year.

I don’t want to ask Facebook what’s happening for fear they’ll somehow delete the friends I already have.  For a moment, I thought Facebook had finally relented and decided to allow us to befriend anyone we felt like befriending without enforcing their artificial 5,000  limit on the amount of friends they think we should have.

Then, yesterday, I saw I had three new friend requests!  I love seeing new friend requests — because I will be friends with anyone who asks — but when I clicked to confirm the pending friend requests, I was given this old, anarchical, Facebook friend block:

I guess I was wrong.  Facebook had not increased their friends limits.  I was unable to add the friends to my network.  I never delete friends, so I’m not going to get rid of one person to make room for another.

How did those three friend requests sneak by the Facebook friend limiter on their end when, for over a week, I’ve been above the 5,000 friend limit by at least 500 friends? Those requests to be my friend should have ignited an error message on the requester end saying something un-friendly like — “This person has too many friends!” — and the request would not appear in my friend inbox.

I also don’t understand how liking Pages counts against my friends limit.  I used to like about 20 Pages, but I think I’ve pared that down to about three now — and even if I go to zero liked Pages, I’ve never been able to add more friends by unliking something.  Why are liked Pages and friends considered the same thing by Facebook?

I’m not sure why I have so many friends.  The only thing I can think of is that I had a lot of old friend requests that I made a long time ago when I was way below the 5,000 friend limit and those requests are finally being accepted, or being processed from an old server queue, and showing up in the requested friendship inboxes of others.

I’m thrilled to have over 5,500 Facebook friends, and I hope our Facebook overlords will allow more friends to be added — even if it doesn’t currently make any allowable sense.


      1. It was more for notification purposes than anything (from what I saw). Hence you could see what your girlfriend/mother/wife was posting FIRST if desired, then check out what the guy in Hawaii had to say about the weather.

        1. That’s interesting, Lillian. I guess the people I’m close to, I talk to them in email, while Facebook for me is more like a massive overwash of what’s happening in the world in real time. I find Facebook much more interesting for divining information than Twitter.

  1. I suspect that may have something to do with how many ‘subscribers’ you have as well. When we’re OVER OUR ARTIFICIALLY IMPOSED LIMIT of ‘friends’ the only other recourse is to ‘subscribe’. Pitiful, isn’t it?

    1. Ah! That’s right! SUBSCRIBERS! I think I remember something about that — but what’s the difference between a subscriber and a friend and why are they now both being lumped together as “Friends?”

      Will I have to wait until I lose 500 friends before I can add the three waiting friends?

      1. That’s all I can see (at this moment). Gordon has a point though. I don’t see this ‘limit’ going on forever. So we wait…….

          1. http://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=139647049460999

            If you’ve allowed subscribers, you can see the people who have subscribed to you by clicking the Subscribers tab on your profile (timeline).

            Friend Subscribers: Current and past friends are subscribed to you by default. This means they may see your posts in their news feeds.

            Public Subscribers: These are people you’re not friends with who subscribe to your public updates.

    1. Interesting article on the status quo — but no real reason other than “our servers can’t handle you having more than 5000 friends.” Pathetic. LinkedIn has no such limit and I don’t think Twitter limits followers…

      1. Ha! We used to have a Facebook “Like” button on this blog for articles — no sure where it is now. Looks like all our social networking buttons have disappeared! Hmph!

          1. I’ve seen them and would have signed in via FACEBOOK, but I’m at work. So… I blog.

          2. Understood! All the printing and email and sharing options have been restored on all the blogs. The buttons now appear beneath the articles. The login stuff we can’t control. That’s a WP.com policy on which network IDs can be used to comment.

  2. Reply to Lilian:

    I agree, they can’t count! Three of those 36 subscribers are the three friend requests I have waiting for a response. Curiouser and curiouser…

    1. people that try to add you (whether they are allowed to or not based on ur exceeded limit/whether you accept them or not) are automatically subscribed to your public updates seeing as how you can choose whether you want your posts to be public or only seen by friends, etc. Im at 5,628 friends now, also cannot add or accept anymore but have 10,063 subscribers which include friends and nonfriends =) i like to keep ’em entertained so most my posts are public anyhow.

  3. I have figured it out. Same thing happened to me too, because I had 3200 friends yesterday and now i have 3700. It’s because before today, when a friend deleted their facebook, you would lose 1 friend. But, now when someone deletes their facebook, they still remain on your list. So all the people that you were friends with before that deleted their facebook, are back on your friends list, putting you well over 5,000.

    1. Hi Blake —

      How did you figure this out? Do you have a link explaining the process?

      With growing privacy concerns, I don’t understand how Facebook could count deleted friends as friends now when those friends should no longer exist at all in their system after the deletion.

      I also find it curious that we both have EXACTLY 500 “new” friends we didn’t have before. Is the limit on dead friends now 500 and still 5,000 for “the living?”

      1. Because my sister and cousin deleted their facebook a while ago and now their names appear on my friends list. But, as a blank profile

          1. There’s a way you can permanently delete your facebook, but most people just “disable” it. So, when they want to use it again in the future, they can just log on.

  4. Here it is – I had the same issue myself (went from 4,997 to 5,285) – it turns out that for some ungodly reason facebook is now counting people who you once had on your friends list but have deleted their accounts. So if you go through your friends lists you’ll see people with the “no avatar” generic image, but if you try to click on their names – it doesn’t do anything. So you can’t remove the buggers. So the only way to get back under the 5k line is to pull live accounts off.

    Not impressed, lemmie tell you.

    1. I wonder if Facebook is doing this to lessen their server load? If you have millions of people with 5,000 friends — and we know friends come and go every day, and every day or so you could squeeze in a new friend request or two over the limit before the system incomprehensibly put you over the 5,000 mark again — and it likely makes sense to them to permanently, but falsely, put us over the friend limit with dead friends so their system doesn’t have to actively monitor or process our living friend requests for a long time.

      I don’t delete friends, so I’ll have to wait until at least 500 alive people actually delete me as a friend to ever be able to add a new friend again. Closing an account no longer removes them from my friend count. So, Facebook has permanently put me 500 friends over the limit, that basically means I will be unable to accept any new friend requests for years!

      What a suck-o move!

  5. You can scroll through your friend list and see which friends have no profile pic, click on their name and it will say they have deactivated their profile, then you can choose to unfriend them. I did about 100 today…will work on some more another time.

    1. Yikes! I don’t feel like clicking on Facebook all day to delete 500 dead friends. Who’s to say Facebook won’t just fill it up again with other dead friends? I’m sure I have many more than 500 people who deleted their accounts just waiting for Facebook to resurrect them again! SMILE!

      1. Yikes! Who’s got that kind of time? It’s an interesting concept tho. “Dead Friends”. What has facebook brought us to? 🙂

  6. I have a conventional (personal) page….also two other “business” pages that people can “like”…but not become friends on them. On the original page, http://www.facebook.com/kentpavelka, I woke up one morning at had 5,160 friends (5,155) as I write this. It had been hovering right at 5,000…allowing me to easily to add and remove…based on friend requests. Now, its at the 5,155 figure and I can’t add anybody or accept anybody new unless I remove 155 friends. I don’t understand what’s happened…but its true. I see several explanations above, referring to subscribers and former friends who’ve deleted their accounts. Whatever the reason for it, you would think Facebook would at least be on record about it…but I can’t find a thing from them on line!!!

    1. Kent!

      I am a tremendous fan of yours! You are, without a doubt, the best play-by-play guy I have ever heard cover a Nebraska game.

      I, too, went to LNE and UNL and worked many years at KFOR and X103 and KOLN/KGIN oh so many years ago.

      As far as I’ve been able to tell, Facebook decided to add back former friends of ours who deleted their profiles. I call them “Dead Friends” because those people think they’re done with Facebook, but Facebook resurrected them to falsely bump up our friend numbers even though we can’t communicate with them.

      I’m now at 5,488 friends — I still can’t add any new friend requests — so it seems I’ve lost around 15 “living” Friends who have, I guess, actively un-Friended me for some reason, but kept their account on Facebook. If they’d deleted their profile, Facebook wouldn’t consider them “un-Friends” and they would remain in perpetuity… or so it seems…

  7. Here’s a NEW twist on the FB Phenomena: (quoth a friend on FB – who doesn’t know ‘us’)

    Friend on FB writes:
    FB is playing tricks on me. We’re only allowed 5,000 friends per account and at one point I had 5,216 currently I’m still over 5,000 by more than 100. I DID NOT ADD THESE as I would not be allowed to exceed the 5,000 mark.
    I’ve posted messages to this effect and others have been experiencing the same.
    At the end of May beginning of June I experienced a man contacting me about ANOTHER sister, same idea as this, he was not my friend either so I BLOCKED him and the next day he was back, then I changed my settings so no one could send me messages unless they were friends and he was once again able to get through.
    I became fearful because if he can UNDO my personal FB settings he is not just an ordinary FB user but a spy.
    I was afraid that he could break into my other personal accounts, such as my banking and so on.
    At one point my computer LOST it’s firewall and many components of windows including all those that would allow me to REPAIR it. I’m currently using a spare computer.
    On May 1 which was May Day Facebook LOCKED me OUT of my account. I was allowed back in on May 2 and realized that FB had deleted much of my content claiming it was offensive.
    I also realized that they had tempered with my settings to OVERRIDE THEM. They made sure that NONE of the people in my CLOSE FRIENDS list were able to view my posts. They probably believed that my close friends were literal close friends, LOL
    My close friends list is made out of people whom I want to make sure I get to read their posts, I don’t personally know any of them, LOL but FB does not know this, LOL
    And some of my posts they customized them choosing whom would get to read them. It took me about 2 weeks for me to figure out what was going on.

    Once I realized I went back to my posts and manually and individually RESET them to PUBLIC and then I ACQUIRED many friends I did not have and did not accept and began to get weird private messages.

    FB is a SPY Website, It’s the CIA. You have to think who would offer us a FREE way to share personal information with our friends and keep in touch with long distance family members and friends? Why would they spend all that money to give us this kind of FREE service?

    I read that they monitor everyone’s posts and they’re computerized software picks up on BUZZ WORDS and immediately sends these posts to be read by their team of spies.

    I was surprised and shocked that some of the buzz words include the name of the president of the united states which I dare not to mention here any more but also the names of two popular females singers, Madonna and Lady Gaga which means that these entertainers are also part of the hidden agenda.

      1. It sounds like the account was password hacked and somebody got in and messed things up. It doesn’t make sense Facebook made those changes.

        1. But you have to love the conspiracy theory angle, right???? You can’t make this stuff up.

  8. I am going thru my over 5,000 friends looking for the ‘dead’ ones and came across plenty of deactivated accounts. Their names were in blue and when you click, you get a little message saying they are deactivated and you can chose to un-friend them (after another confirmation step).

    Then, I started coming across some with black-text names. You cannot click their name, nor their picture(generic avatar). You do not have the option to un-friend them (if I can do it elsewhere, I haven’t determined yet). I posted a screenshot on my facebook wall that contained both a deactivated account and one of these ‘mystery status’ profiles. I could still ‘tag’ the deactivated profile; the other i could not.

    I do a lot of promotions/advertising for events on my wall and have a lot of (facebook) friends – I had gone from just under 4,900 to over 5,300 overnight. I am now down to about 5,250 (with out me really deleting any significant number)… Oh, and i also post a lot of #OWS, political, conspiracy-type posts too…..

    If anybody has any other theories about these friends, I am all ears…. I do agree the deactivated accounts may be one culprit. I seem to have a lot of them in my friends list (which I never noticed before).

    1. Thanks for your comment! I don’t know if I have the time or patience to scroll through all my Facebook friends and delete the “recently added dead” accounts. What a strange policy for them to enforce!

      1. I suppose the very number itself indicates that you don’t NEED to be more popular! Here’s an unintended consequence. 🙂

    1. Hi Markus!

      It’s a good problem to have, I suppose, but it does, sadly, prevent us from adding new friends instead of keeping around the defunct ones! SMILE!

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