UPDATE: This script is now live! Go here for instructions.
A few days ago, many players noticed that Facebook had magically given them some new friends . To normal Facebook users, this was perplexing but not really a problem. To gamers, it’s a big deal because of the imposed 5,000 friend limit. Josh Wolford wrote an article for WebProNews and explained that Facebook intentionally added deactivated accounts back to your friend list.
“We recently changed the way we count the number of people you are friends with to include some accounts that are not currently active on the service. It is important to note, that while we are showing different counts, no additional user information will be available. Due to our internal infrastructure we can provide an even faster experience for those that use our service by showing these modified counts.”
Now that we know why these accounts were added to our Friend List, we need to know how to get rid of them. Initially I thought running the Mafia Manager would flag these accounts as inactive players and you could grab the Facebook ID numbers, use the Remove Friends Spocklet and be done with it . This system won’t work because most of these accounts are not in your mafia
nor are they returned by Facebook API. I learned the hard way after removing 1,700 friends who hadn’t played Mafia Wars in 2 days and replacing them with pending Friend Requests. When it was all said and done, my friend count was 4,772 but my total number of mafia was 4,344. It turns out I had 428 of these accounts to get rid of!
To remove these pesky deactivated accounts you need to go to your Facebook Friends List. To get there, go to your Profile Page and click on the “friends” link located below the friend cluster image shown above or just use the link shown below. You then need to scroll through all of your friends and find the ones without profile images.
When you click on them from your Friends List, you will get the option to unfriend them. Click “Okay” and the account will be removed from your list.
It’s nice that these accounts can be removed but who has time to scroll through thousands of friends and manually remove hundreds of accounts? I know Mafia Wars players don’t! Fortunately Brandon Venery is working on a script to find and remove all deactivated accounts. It makes the process very easy. It should soon go live but I have a sneak peek for now. Once launched, it will sit on top of your Friend List.
There are 3 options. “Auto Remove” will search and destroy in one shot, “Find and Sort” will list all of the accounts on one page and “List Id’s” will give you a list of their Facebook IDs to use on scripts like Spockholms Remove Facebook Friends.
The process takes some time if you have a lot of Facebook friends but is well worth it. If you are the type who likes to watch your scripts run (not recommended in this case), Brandon had some fun with the status messages.
In the example below, I used the Sort and Find option. when finished, the status will say “All Done!” and all the deactivated accounts will appear on the same page.
You can run it again and they will automatically be removed. In April of this year, Mashable reported that there were 901 million monthly active users of Facebbok. Did they really need to bring these deactivated accounts back to life? I’m just happy there is an easier way to get rid of them.
Thanks to Jeff Nelson for the link which explains why Facebook made such a bonehead move. Many thanks to Brandon for creating a script that will extend way beyond the Mafia Wars community. Once it’s live, I will write a follow up post.