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facebook online statusFacebook is great and the chat function makes it even better. However, we all have at least one “friend” who always talks to us while we’re online. Or, if you’re really unlucky, more than one friend. If you’re that unfortunate, I pity you. But thankfully there is a way to change this. And it’s easy! But, depending on your circumstances, it may not be quick. The process is made up of two parts:

  • Organize your friends with lists.
  • Decide which lists and friends can or cannot see you while online.

Organizing Your Friends Into Categories (Or Lists)

Facebook Lists are useful for many reasons. Besides just having the peace of mind that all of your contacts are categorized appropriately, you’re able to filter the content you share, create custom newsfeeds and, of course, decide who sees you online, and who doesn’t.

The process is fairly simple really, and if you have as many contacts as I do, be prepared for this to take a while. Here’s my advice – if there are specific “friends” which you don’t want to see you appearing online, create a list for them first, perhaps one that is labeled as simple as “Friends To Appear Offline To” – you can get more organized later once you’ve nipped the problem in the bud.

Note that these people can still send you direct messages on Facebook and they always will be able to as long as they’re a Facebook friend. If you don’t want that either, I can’t help you with that except to say that you might want to consider restricting or unfriending them (which is an official word by the way).

So where do you go to create lists? Well Facebook doesn’t make it entirely easy to find. I actually had to go looking for it. But here is the full link. You might want to bookmark that for easy access in the future. Otherwise you can remember to scroll down the left side column, find “Friends” and click “More” next to it (which is only displayed if you hover around the “Friends” area in the sidebar). Note that “Friends” and other menu items may be hidden under a “More” option at the end of the sidebar.

facebook online status

Why Facebook even hides certain menu items when there’s plenty of sidebar space to list them all is beyond me. Now, this could be because I have so many items already being shown on the sidebar, so if you didn’t have to initially click “More” the first time, then great.

Now you might have noticed this, but Facebook has a few kind of lists – preset lists, smart lists and custom lists. Preset lists are lists Facebook has created for you, such as Close Friends, Acquaintances and Restricted (friends who are only able to see public posts). Smart lists are other lists Facebook has created for you and are created based on your location, where you’ve gone to school, where you’ve worked, your family members, etc. Custom lists are lists that you physically create.

facebook status on facebook

All of these lists can be added to and edited manually. What’s nice is that Facebook has done some of the work for you. In fact, you may already notice that it suggests friends to add to certain lists, like “Close Friends.” Adding to friend lists is pretty simple. Simply open the list and start typing in your friends’ names or select from the suggested friends list.

facebook status on facebook

Deciding Who Can See You Online & Who Can’t

facebook status on facebook

There are a couple of avenues you could go about in doing this. You can either decide who specifically can’t see you online or you can decide who specifically can see you online. This just depends on the approach you want to take. Are there only a specific few people that you don’t want to talk to? If so, simply singling them out will fit your needs fine.

facebook status friends

Or do you have a lot of friends, but only want to talk to a specific few? If the second one sounds more like you, then you might want to specify only those who can see you online.

facebook online status

Remember that if you have a friend in two (or more) lists and only one of those lists is forbidden from seeing you online, that friend who’s in both lists can still see you. This can work both for and against you, but as long as you remember that and plan accordingly, you’ll be okay.

Personally, I only allow two groups of friends to see me online – “Awesome People” and “Close Friends“.  Everyone else can send me a message. That said, I do keep these lists updated and add to them occasionally.

And of course, there’s always the option to make your Facebook online status appear offline to everyone, which is a really fast quick fix, but doesn’t necessarily solve the problem while allowing you to still use the Facebook chat feature.


Really, the process is pretty simple. I didn’t go a whole lot into other methods and benefits of using your Facebook lists, but I encourage you to try them out.

Here are some other very useful Facebook tips that we’ve covered in previous articles:

What do you prefer to do? Turn off the whole chat function or customize your friends lists, which have more than one benefit.

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  1. Umar
    December 30, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    It does not work. By clicking gear icon and then advanced settings, I get this.. "Turn chat on" & "Turn chat off" No option for selective chat on or off. Can only turn it off completely for all friends, or turn on for all.
    Moreover can’t turn chat off for a single person from his chat window settings. No “chat off” option there.
    I have reported this to facebook multiple times, no response received and its been over a month now of this issue.

  2. Umar
    December 30, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    It does not work. By clicking gear icon and then advanced settings, I get this.. "Turn chat on" and "Turn chat off". Only two options to either completely turn on for all or turn off for all friends. No option for selective chat on or off for a few friends/lists. Can only turn it off completely for all friends, or turn on for all.
    Moreover can’t turn chat off for a single person from his chat window settings. No “chat off” option there.
    I have reported this to facebook multiple times, no response received and its been over a month now of this issue.

  3. carl
    December 7, 2016 at 2:38 am

    I can't see this option.
    What I have after advanced settings is: "Turn off/on chat for all contacts" - there is no option to "Turn on/off chat for all except" - it's so annoying. It used to be there but not now.

    • Umar
      December 30, 2016 at 7:18 pm

      Yes, facing same issue from 1 month.

  4. sakshi
    December 13, 2015 at 10:56 am

    thanks for help

  5. Becca
    November 14, 2015 at 6:27 am

    Thank you!

  6. Tahir zaman
    April 18, 2013 at 6:36 am


  7. Subhramanyu Mishra
    December 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Nice informative post Aaron.. I am already using these features since a long time how ever there is one more thing I'm really curious to know about is there any way one can know who is peeping to his facebook profile/account ?? as far as I know there is no such application or functionality available yet, however if you know any tricks or applications using which this can be possible then please share more information on the same, I would really appreciate your help..!!!

    • Jazzed
      August 17, 2017 at 1:39 am

      Can you still see the friends from this list online? Or will their online activity be turned off for you?

  8. shaurya gupta
    December 18, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Quite a cool but familiar technique!

  9. Nancy B
    December 17, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    I have made several profiles in my Facebook account. Besides family and friends I also have Limited friends for gaming and people I really don't know and they are limited in what they can see in my profile. And Chat I just have a handful of people in, and I usually have it off. At one point I actually deleted chat until recently a friend asked me to put it on so we could talk when her husband is around so he doesn't over hear like he does when we are on the phone.
    Definitely make several friend profiles so the ones you don't know well, don't see everything you post or are doing!

  10. Peter Clarvis
    December 17, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Very useful for controlling 'friends'

  11. Anonymous
    December 15, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    There are still people who dont know about lists. Great article. Dummy friendly. :)

    • Aaron Couch
      December 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm


      Although you're right about some not knowing about lists. I think it's more that people "know" of lists, they just don't use them or understand the point of organizing friends.

  12. Hashem Bushnina
    December 15, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Yeah I often use this way to escape some "Unwanted" friends

  13. Mac Witty
    December 15, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    I have turned of the chat function - I alway get messages when I'm just in to check something and do not have time to chat.

  14. Damien Garcia
    December 15, 2012 at 6:05 am

    LOL this made me crack up! but i cant wait to use this on certain ppl. haha

  15. Salman Johnson
    December 15, 2012 at 5:19 am

    I knew this years ago. Lol

  16. Brenden Barlow
    December 15, 2012 at 4:56 am

    very nice article. almost against what it means to have friends on fb, though.....

    • Aaron Couch
      December 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm


      Thanks for reading. I wouldn't say it's "against having friends" on Facebook though. It's more about managing them. Those friends can STILL send you a message any time. It's just regulating who talks to you in chat as well as using lists to regulate who sees what posts (just like you do in Google+).

      I think Facebook Lists is a great, but very underused tool.

    • Aaron Couch
      December 16, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      Are you asking this question from the standpoint of what "filtering out" friends on Facebook can do for you or from the standpoint of what is the purpose of having friends on Facebook in the first place?

      If it's the second, I do understand your point. But at the same time, it's not "against having friends," but simply allowing you to manage them better. This becomes increasingly important when you have five... six... seven... eight... nine hundred friends... or more.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Biswajit
      December 10, 2014 at 10:42 am

      You can see this post: