Facebook used to make the friend request process very simple: If someone sent you a request, you could either confirm them or ignore them. But last year, Facebook implemented a new process that’s slightly more complicated, and slightly less private, depending on how you use it. Now, when someone sends you a friend request, you can choose “Add” to confirm the relationship, or “Not Now.” “Not Now” sounds fairly nice; it’s not an outright rejection, simply a delay in decision-making.
But there’s a problem with “Not Now.”
You already know that any posts that you make “visible by anyone” are visible to any users who visit your profile page, whether they’re on your friend list or not (which is why our Privacy Mentor guide advises you to keep your posts to “friends only”). In the past, when you put off someone’s friend request by simply not acting on it (not clicking either “confirm” or “ignore”), then any public (“visible to everyone”) posts and updates you made started to appear in that person’s own news feed. In short, they could see your public posts without having to go to your profile page.
The reasoning for this was pretty simple. After all, the info they saw about you was info that you were making public anyway, and since you hadn’t chosen to “ignore” them, they MIGHT be confirmed as your friend at some point. So they were permitted to “follow” you, in a sense. But the friend request would still be sitting there, asking you to take action on this potential friend, and clicking “ignore” on their request meant that your public posts disappears from their news feed (although they could still see whatever you made public if they chose to go directly to your profile).
Now to the current Facebook friend method, which makes you choose between “Add” or “Not Now” for each friend request you get. With “Not Now,” Facebook is extending the rejection process of potential friends to multiple steps. When you click “Not Now,” the friend request becomes “Hidden,” but the person still gets your public updates in their news feed until you finally get back to confirming or deleting the friend request. “Not Now” is not the same as the old “Ignore” – It’s simply taking the friend request out of sight. This is troubling because most people will click the “Not Now” button and then never go back later to handle all their pending friend requests. Facebook is all about community and encouraging connections, and for them, anything that makes it harder for you to outright reject a potential friend is a plus (hence the removal of the one-click “Ignore” option).
At this moment, many of us have pending friends who can see all of our public posts in their own news feed, simply because we opted to say “Not Now” on their friend request. (Remember: these pending friends CANNOT see your friends-only posts and photos, since they’re not your friends yet. Your pending friends simply get easier access to any posts that you make visible to everyone.)
The solution to the “Not Now” problem (and the way to actually deny friend requests) is this: Go into your “Hidden” friend requests by selecting the “friend” icon at the top left of the page, choosing “See all friend requests,” and then choosing “See Hidden Requests” on the next page. When you see your list of “Not Now” friends, choose either “Confirm” or “Delete Request” for each of them.
Yes, it’s a slightly annoying process just to deny people that you don’t wish to be friends with, but it’s important to do it when you have pending friend requests.
If there are any users whom you wish to block so that they can no longer send friend requests to you, click “Delete Request,” and then look to where it says “Request Deleted.” The next sentence will be a link that says “Don’t Know [insert name]?” If you click that link, the user will be blocked from sending you further friend requests.
Of course, the main lesson with the “Not Now” feature (aside from not putting off action on potential friends) is a reminder to keep all posts, pictures, updates, etc. on “friends only” privacy settings. If you don’t make any of your updates public, then it’s less of a problem if pending friends see your public info in their news feed – a lack of public posts means they’d see nothing at all about you.