Update: Duster Co-founder Adlai Gordon told Yahoo Tech that Facebook disabled his app on May 21st because it “encourages un-friending among users. This is an intended limitation on Facebook functionality and is not allowed.” R.I.P. Duster. It was good while it lasted.
Any early adopter of Facebook has probably friended a few people whom — to this day — she has no recollection of meeting. Perhaps you’d rather not share your personal thoughts and photos with these random people?
Well, I’ve got just the tool for you, in time for spring cleaning: Duster.
The free app connects to Facebook and analyzes which of your friends you’ve barely interacted with lately. Within a couple of seconds, it’ll offer recommendations, in the form of a pinboard of forgotten faces, of people to remove from your social circle.
If you’re actively looking to declutter, the tool can offer up some helpful options, pointing out folks who are not a part of your Facebook life.
Oh, and one fringe benefit: The app can also finger accounts that belong to friends you may not interact with much on Facebook, but whom you are genuinely interested in. So as much as this is an app meant to clear the residue of forgotten acquaintances, it might motivate you to rekindle fading friendships, too.
But, of course, there are some caveats.
As you probably know, unfriending is a pretty loaded activity. Even if I haven’t spoken to someone in years, she may one day look up my page and realize she doesn’t have access to my profile anymore. It feels very final, and that scares me.
Then there are people I have known and silently followed, fascinated, for years, but have never interacted with since then. These people satisfy my “What if?” void, my voyeuristic itch, and there’s no way I’ll ever sacrifice that for a pared-down friends list.
So the takeaway is this: No matter how easy Duster might make it to remove Facebook friends, there’s no way it can accurately gauge which ones you’ve really lost interest in. Long live passive Facebook acquaintances!
Regardless, here’s how you use it:
1. Go to Dusterapp.com and click Start Duster.
2. The app will ask for permission to access your Facebook account’s information, since that’s the only way it can see who your friends are. Don’t worry: It won’t remove any friends without your explicit permission.
3. From there, it’ll populate a list of the people gathering dust on your friends list. Looks like I haven’t interacted with Tao Lin in a while. Shame.
4. After thinking it over, you can choose to click either Hide or Dust! The Hide option allows you to keep that friend, while the Dust! option brings you to an unfriending page.
As it turns out, the only one I’m brave enough to unfriend is my college friend’s cat. Sorry, Pika.
And that’s it! You can try Duster here. Beware, college friends’ cats everywhere.