Facebook: How to hide your online status or disable chat

After signing in to Facebook, your friends can see that you’re online by default. You can open the chat window in the lower right corner of the window and choose to go offline, but after your next login to Facebook, this setting is lost and you’re online, again.

This may be not the way to go for multiple reasons:

  • If I’m logging in to Facebook, this doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to chat. (People who know me probably also know that I don’t use instant messaging at all…)
  • Privacy: I don’t want everyone (of my Facebook friends) to track my use of Facebook.
  • When I use a phone with a Facebook app running in the background, I appear to be online and ready for chatting as long as the phone is connected to the Internet (probably always). This happened at least with the official Facebook app for Android.

So what to do? A friend of mine was so kind to show me a simple procedure to trick Facebook into hiding my status:

  1. Create at least one list of friends, if you don’t have any lists yet (Friends -> Edit Friends -> Create a List). You don’t need to put all of your friends into it, just make sure you have at least one list.
  2. Open the chat window and use the small slider button that is located right of each group name to set your visibility to “offline” for each group. Since Facebook provides a virtual list named “Other Friends”, you can even hide your status from friends that didn’t make it on any of your lists.

Done! Now, you seem to be offline for all of your friends, even after you log out and in again, even though your status is displayed as “online” (green circle in the chat window). To use the chat again, simply open the chat window and toggle the slider buttons as you did in Step 2.

3 replies on “Facebook: How to hide your online status or disable chat”

  1. Interesting: I’m currently offline and stay offline even after a new login… Just as it is described in the FAQ, I went offline and Facebook does not change this randomly

  2. You stay offline only when you allow Facebook to store cookies on your computer – which is not a good idea if you don’t want to be tracked while surfing the web (on every page that features a “Like” button or other Facebook content). Yes, Facebook tracks the websites its users are visiting even after logging out.

    If you don’t allow cookies for Facebook, you will be online the next time you log on. My Firefox is configured to allow cookies only until I close the browser, which might be the default – or not. At least, it is a sensible choice when balancing usability on the one hand and privacy on the other.

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