This article was published on June 2, 2010

Cybersnub: What really happens when you say “no” to that friend request

Cybersnub: What really happens when you say “no” to that friend request

We all know how hard it can be to say “no” to someone to their face – the shock, the rejection, the humiliation. No-one wants to be the cause of that. But do you know what happens when you say “no” to someone’s connection request? I had suspicions, but I thought I should check it out to make sure I didn’t inadvertently cause offence. So I did some research on the cybersnub across the three biggest social networks.


Let’s take two people, Adam and Bob. Bob searched for Adam and sent a friend request.
Facebook’s invite email gives a subtle hint to Adam as to what might happen when it runs the line “To confirm (or quietly ignore) this request go to… “. Adam has two options…

Confirm Friend or Ignore

  1. Confirm friend – which adds Adam to Bob’s network and vice-versa.
  2. Ignore – Bob does not receive a notification of decline from Adam. There’s also no way of seeing sent friend requests so the only way Bob knows that Adam cybersnubbed him is that Adam doesn’t appear in his network. Bob is able to search for Adam and initiate another friend request.


Firstly, it’s worth remembering that Twitter is an open platform. You can only cyber-snub someone if you’ve protected your tweets, otherwise anyone can follow you.

Protected their tweets

Bob has requested to follow Adam’s protected tweets. Adam is presented with two options…
Accept or Decline

  • Accept – Bob becomes a follower of Adam
  • Decline – Bob’s request disappears into the ether. Twitter does not inform Bob that Adam has declined the follow request. Bob can browse to Adam’s twitter page and send another follow request and the cycle repeats itself.


Note: all research took place on LinkedIn’s new look Inbox. Where I know of differences between the new and the old Inboxes, I’ve indicated them.

The same protagonists doing the same thing – Bob searched for Adam and sent an invite for Adam to join his network.

Accept or ignore?

Adam has two options…

  1. Accept – which adds Adam to Bob’s network and vice-versa.
  2. Ignore – Bob does not receive a notification of decline from Adam. By default LinkedIn “archives” ignored invitations although Adam could also choose to indicate that he does not know Adam.

Invitation ignored and archived

  • On the new Inbox, it’s not clear what the difference between selecting “ignore” and “I don’t know” is, this seems to be related to functionality which is quietly disappearing. Bob can see the sent invitation, but cannot see whether Adam archived or indicated “I don’t know this person”.
  • On the old Inbox, if Bob has a look in sent invitations (accessed via the circuitous route of navigating Inbox –> Sent –> Invitations) he will either see that Adam has not accepted his invite or, if Adam selected “I don’t know”, he will see that Adam selected that he does not know Bob.

In both cases, once Adam has declined Bob’s invite, Bob can find Adam via the search. To trigger a second invite he will need to provide Adam’s email address. If Bob provides the address, the invite is sent but Adam doesn’t receive another “Join my network on LinkedIn email”. Instead, the invite appears in his invitations Inbox as “blocked” and Adam has to select to unblock it before he can see and act on the invite.

All networks have taken the silent snub approach. None of the networks send the invitor a notification that they’ve been cybersnubbed.

Is it too late?

Maybe this comes too late for you and you’ve already got people in your network that you just don’t want. Don’t worry, I tried the defriending on all networks and all that happens is that the connection is broken. None of the networks inform the newly lonely that they’ve been defriended, they just silently drop out of the network.

What does it all mean? Well, at least you can feel a bit more confident about ignoring requests from people you want to keep out of your network. If they cotton on and send repeated invitations, you’re probably wise to avoid the stalker anyway.