An iPhone application released this week from a company called i-Doodz tracks those who have "defriended" you on the social networking site Facebook. Defriended, as the app is called, takes its name from the slang word that means "to remove from one's list of friends (e.g. on a social networking site)", according to Wikitionary, an open content dictionary that operates like Wikipedia for words.

The Defriended app gives you an easy way to track these defriending events since Facebook itself doesn't provide this feature - or at least that's what the app did until Facebook blocked its operation. Apparently, the social network thinks defriending should be a private matter. As of now, the app is no longer available for download in the App Store.

The way Defriended works - or rather, the way it used to work - was simple. Each time you launched the app, it would scan your Facebook friend list and compare that scan to the previous one. Any friends that went missing between scans were listed.

Unfortunately, the little side project created by an i-Doodz developer was in violation of Facebook's platform developer agreement. In section 2, Facebook warns developers that they may not circumvent the company's "intended limitations" on core Facebook features. Specifically, it reads: "you must not notify a user that someone has removed the user as a friend." In other words, Facebook doesn't want you to know who doesn't want to be your friend.

Today, a message on the i-Doodz site states:

Last week our developer was bored one evening, had an idea, and a few hours later uploaded the "defriended" iPhone app. it unexpectedly got a lot of attention, then subsequently Facebook blocked the app, causing it to stop working. We will be looking at how feasible it is to make the app work without a corresponding facebook app, but in the meantime if you've bought the app you should ask apple for a refund - and please do...we don't really want to get money for an app you paid for and that doesn't work. We apologise for the inconvenience.

Tracking Defriending Events - A Bad Idea

We suppose that if you were notified every time someone removed you as a friend, you might get angry or hurt - feelings Facebook wouldn't want you to associate with their site. After all, social networking is supposed to be about making connections, not ending them... or is it? Even worse, you might contact the person doing the defriending and ask them, "Why?" This may force them to re-add you out of social politeness when really they had no longer wanted to retain the connection.

Although it seems like a petty move to block Defriender from operating, it makes sense. Social networking connections are meant to mirror our real life friendships... at least that's what Facebook thinks. As two people go their separate ways in life, friendships fade. They're meant to. Very few people maintain a meaningful relationship with everyone they've ever met and became friends with throughout their life. In fact, if you tried to do so, it would be overwhelming. So while it may be nice to catch up with your best friend from junior high or your old college roommate via Facebook, after some time - and very little interaction after the first "How have you been?" - those connections should be able to fade away again just like they did in real life.

Even though Facebook doesn't alert users now when they've be defriended, the decision to thin the list is still a bit uncomfortable for some people. What if they notice?! Chances are, if you haven't communicated with the person in months on end, they won't. We promise. Still, to avoid the whole messy defriending situation in the first place, the best method is to simply not accept the friend request to begin with. That's what the "ignore" button is for.

However, if you slipped up and have contaminated your News Feed with these non-friends, it's time to remove them. An article in the New York Times from January 2009 suggested that proper Facebook friend etiquette involves culling your friend list once per year to remove "total strangers and other hangers-on." (We think heavy Facebook users may need to do that a little more often.) The article, an examination of our new social morals, shows how the act of defriending is just as much a part of social networking as the initial friending request is. Tracking these events via an iPhone app or any other service would be an unnecessary - and potentially painful - process. Let's let the defriending continue quietly... the way it was intended to be.

(Image credit: geek.com)