Appear Offline to Anyone on Facebook (2020)
Are you so popular that the moment you log into Facebook, you're bombarded with excited messages from your one hundred closest friends? No?! It's okay, we aren't either.
But maybe you just want to scroll through your feed without your math partner seeing that you're online and messaging you for help on the homework. Or you just feel weird that everyone can see that you spend all your time online.
If any of these scenarios ring true to you, read below to learn how you can hide your Active Status on Facebook.
By default, Facebook allows all of your friends to see when you're online. Furthermore, they may even share how long it's been since you were last online.
If this sounds inconvenient or even invasive, you can control this information without too much hassle. This article will detail:
- How your friends can tell when you're online/when you were last online (your Active Status)
- What are your options for hiding and showing your Active Status to your friends
- A detailed guide on how to control your Active Status for desktop users as of October 2020
What is Your Active Status?
While this topic is relatively straightforward, there is one term that is useful to understand. In their own words, Facebook uses the term Active Status to describe "when you're active or recently active on Facebook or Messenger".
If you've been using Facebook for a while, you've likely noticed that your friends may have green dots next to their names indicating that they are online in your chat window, looking something like this:
If they've been online recently, you might see how long ago they were last online:
This information that you've see about your friends is know as their Active Statuses. Similarly, your Active Status is shared to all of your friends by default.
What Can You Do About Your Active Status?
Now that you know what your friends see by default, it's time to discuss how Facebook allows you to can change this. You essentially have 4 options:
- Everyone sees your Active Status (this is the default)
- No one sees your Active Status
- Only certain friends that you choose see your Active Status (ex: only your best friends see when you're online)
- Everyone except certain friends that you choose see your Active Status (ex: make it so that only your chatty Aunt can't tell when you're online)
If you like the first option... well, this article is probably still useful to you because you might change your mind and changing your Active Status is an easy process that really only takes a few seconds. There's no application process or anything of that nature; you can turn off and turn on your Active Status as quickly and often as you'd like.
As for the other three options, they involve hiding your Active Status from one/multiple/all of your Facebook friends. Instead of seeing a green dot or when you were last online, these friends will not see any of this information when you appear in their chat lists:
Note that if you have friends who are missing an Active Status like this in your Chat list, it doesn't necessarily mean that they've turned off their Active Statuses; it could also mean that they haven't recently been on Facebook.
What's the Catch?
Yes, there is a catch involved here. It's not really a catch as much as a downside, but it's important to know that if someone can't see your Active Status, then you won't be able to see his or her Active Status. He or she will no longer appear in your Chat list either for easy messaging access (you will still be able to exchange messages).
Let's break this down a bit. Essentially, if you hide your Active Status from everyone, you won't be able to see when any of your contacts are online anymore. If you don't want one specific friend seeing when you're online, you won't be able to tell when that friend is online either.
Why is this not such a big deal? Because, as mentioned in the last section, changing your Active Status is easy! If you're generally not interested in using Facebook to chat with friends, you can keep your Active Status off for the most part. But say, if one day you have some spare time and you do feel like messaging your friends, you can turn on your Active Status in a matter of seconds. In that moment, it would benefit you to see which of your friends are online and you wouldn't mind people seeing you online either.
The Steps to Control Your Active Status
1) Start by heading over to https://www.facebook.com/. You will need to log into your account if you are not logged in already.
2) Once you're on your Facebook, open up your Chat window by clicking the minimized window in the bottom-right corner of your screen titled 'Chat'.
3) At the top right corner of the Chat window, select the gear icon.
4) Clicking the gear will open up a drop down menu with various chat options. The option that is third from the bottom of the list is titled 'Turn Off Active Status'. Select this option.
5) A window will pop up allowing you to setup your Active Status. You can select from 3 options here:
- Turn off Active Status for all contacts - Select this option to hide your Active Status for everyone. This will mean that none of your friends will be able to see when you're online or when you were recently online. You also will no longer see any of your friends or their Active Statuses in your Chat window.
- Turn off active status for all contacts except... - Select this option to allow everyone to continue to see your Active Status except for certain friends. You can choose just one user here or a hundred to hide your Active Status from. Just remember that you also will no longer to see the Active Status of anyone you choose here, just as they won't see yours. These friends will no longer appear in your Chat list, either.
- Turn off active status for only some contacts... - Select this option to hide your Active Status from everyone except certain friends. You can choose one or multiple friends to continue to share your Active Status with. Remember, you also will no longer be able to see anyone's Active Status except for the friends you list here and only these friends will appear in your Chat list.
6) If you selected one of the last two options ('Turn off active status for all contacts except...' or 'Turn off active status for only some contacts...'), you will be prompted to input the names of your friends to whom you would like the option to apply. As mentioned, you can input as many names as you'd like. You can also input list names here (If you're not sure what a list is, look out for an article on setting up Friends Lists coming soon!).
Once you're done, select 'OK'. Your Chat list will immediately be updated to reflect your changes.
How Long Does it Take For My Changes Apply?
Theoretically, the changes should take place immediately; this is why your Chat window was updated immediately. A friend whom you turned off Active Status for will no longer be able to see your Active Status once he or she goes on Facebook.
There is a scenario where the change may not be reflected immediately. This is in the instance that a friend whom your turned on or off Active Status for is already online. He or she will have to reload the page in order for your Active Status to change in visibility.
This isn't a big deal, but if your friend is clever, he or she may pick up on your decision to change your Active Status. Why? Well, just imagine how it would look: you're browsing around on Facebook and you have a friend who's online, with a green dot next to his name. Suddenly, after you reload the page, the green dot disappears. What happened?! If he went offline, it would say that he was online '1 min' ago. Was it a glitch? Or did he just hide his Active Status from you?
Again, it really isn't a big deal because no one should be able to tell whether you turned off your Active Status for everyone or just for specific people unless they get really sleuthy and start asking others if they can see your Active Status. But this seems a little farfetched... We just wanted to mention it so you're aware of how changing your Active Status could look to other users.
How Did We Feel About This Facebook Feature?
Like many features on Facebook, Active Statuses can be a double-edged sword. Isn't it nice to know that your friend hasn't looked at Facebook for several hours before sending him an urgent message? Or if you're looking for someone to chitchat with, it's nice to know who's even online instead of taking a shot in the dark.
On the other hand, there are several inconveniences that can pop up with others seeing your Active Status. Facebook is a place where you can receive event invitations, check the news, shop at the Marketplace, quickly look up a friend's contact information, and so much more; just because you're online, it doesn't mean that you're looking to socialize.
And the issues get much more complicated than that. Sometimes you may just want to talk to one friend or your five closest friends. Or you've got certain people in your Friends list who you don't want to talk to... ever. After all, for most of us, how many of our Facebook friends are actually our friends?
It's convenient that Facebook created a simple process for dealing with all of these issues. The biggest issue in all of this might be that hiding your Active Status from someone hides his or her Active Status from you, but we guess that's only fair...
We highly recommend taking some time to learn how to control your Active Status. Even if it's something you're not interested in now, it will likely be useful at some point if you keep using Facebook Chat or Messenger.