“He’s Got His Own Sea”: Political Facebook Unfriending in the Personal Public Sphere

Nicholas A. John*, Noam Gal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


This article explores the meaning of political unfriending and proposes the concept of the personal public sphere. Interviews with Jewish Israeli Facebook users who unfriended during the Israel–Gaza conflict of 2014 show unfriending to be a form of boundary management for the self in conditions of networked sociality. They shed light on deeply rooted perceptions of the “networkedness” of society as a fundamental organizing principle for the self and collective. Thus, we conceptualize unfriending as exercising sovereignty over one’s personal public sphere while also acknowledging that everyone else has their own personal public sphere too. The concept of the personal public sphere accounts for a crucial feature of politically motivated unfriending: the dissonance between the justifications for unfriending and the act itself.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2971-2988
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Communication
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 (Nicholas A. John and Noam Gal). Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd). Available at http://ijoc.org.


  • Facebook
  • defriending
  • disconnection
  • personal public sphere
  • political conversation
  • social media
  • unfriending


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