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How to turn off read receipts in Facebook Messenger

How to turn off read receipts in Facebook Messenger
Grace Sweeney

Grace Sweeney

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Read receipts aren’t exactly popular.

Install Facebook Messenger

They’re a great way to stir up a little drama among friends. They can also generate a ton of anxiety when you’re trying to figure out if that new guy you’ve been dating is serious or not.

Nothing is worse than knowing someone read your message and just didn’t respond.

There’s literally no benefit to this FB-sanctioned stalking tool. It’s just an added pressure designed, in Facebook terms, to add a conversational cadence to our online chat.

So, can you turn off Messenger’s read receipts?

The short answer is, no. Facebook doesn’t make it easy by allowing you to turn this setting off through your account.

That said, you do have some options.

How do you read a Facebook message without the sender knowing?

Facebook Messenger relies on a system of circles to show the status of each message you send. You’re probably familiar with the setup, but it looks like this:

Read receipt in Facebook messenger

We all know it’s a pain when you get a message, but don’t want to respond immediately. You could ignore the message, but, come on, that’s not entirely realistic.

There are a few workarounds to use here:

Turn on the airplane mode

One of the easiest ways to check your messages incognito is to prevent the internet from reaching your app.

Turn your phone on airplane mode, then open your app and read your messages.

Use the notifications screen

The other quick fix? Not opening the app at all. Instead, view your messages through your phone’s notification screen to avoid detection.

Just be careful you don’t accidentally open the app. This workaround is best used to quickly check if any notifications demand an immediate response.

Embrace the extensions

As with the mobile app, Facebook doesn’t provide an easy way to hide from your friends and family.

Chrome has a workaround, aptly named, Unseen, that you can add to your browser. You can start reading messages without feeling like you’re being watched.

Google Chrome Unseen feature

If you’re a Firefox fan, Message Seen Disable does the same thing.

Both browser extensions allow you to open the app and read your messages. However, that little ball with your profile picture won’t drop unless you turn off the extension.

Also, both apps are free and require no actual tech savvy. If read receipts are the bane of your existence, this is your best option.

FB Unseen Download Free
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Read receipt drama is real — science confirms

For a deep dive into this subject matter, we recommend checking out an episode of the “Why’d You Push That Button” podcast. They interview researcher Lujayn Alhddad who literally wrote a paper on the topic.

The paper looks at the difference between how people feel about read receipts depending on whether they’re the sender or the recipient. Unsurprisingly, most people wanted to see when someone got their message but didn’t like the idea that someone might be tracking their behavior.

Alhddad brings up the real issue of social pressure associated with read receipts.

She says they serve as a reminder that we “need” to respond immediately. Otherwise, the sender will assume the recipient is not interested in what they have to say.

Another expert, Dr. Tony D. Sampson, of the University of East London has another thought. He says that apps like Facebook, iMessage, and WhatsApp are designed to “trigger negative emotions linked to compulsive behavior.”

This, admittedly, sounds troubling. Sampson says that unhealthy habits like compulsively checking read receipt time stamps keep us tuned in. This means we’re continuing to supply platforms with our data.

Next time you leave someone on “read,” give a thought to their mental state.

Grace Sweeney

Grace Sweeney

Grace is a painter turned freelance writer who specializes in blogging, content strategy, and sales copy. She primarily lends her skills to SaaS, tech, and digital marketing companies.

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