Muting, snoozing, and other ways to quietly ignore people on social media

Dial down the volume on your most attention-seeking friends.

Social media apps
Make your social media apps quieter.David Nield

Sure, you love your friends and family—but that doesn't mean you need to hear absolutely everything they post on social media. Just a few too-chatty contacts can hog all of your attention on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Luckily, all three of these social networks, as well as instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, offer tools for muting certain contacts—or at least dialing down the number of their posts you see. They won't know you're ignoring their latest updates, but your social feed will feel much quieter.

Instagram

Instagram recently added an option to mute any of your contacts. Under this setting, you won't see their posts...but they won't realize that. Muting sidesteps the awkwardness of a full unfriending, and leaves the door open so you can still reach out to your frenemy.

At the moment, this ability is limited to the apps (for Android and iOS), not the Instagram website. So if you're online, you'll need to take the more serious steps of unfollowing or blocking a noisy contact—just click through to their profile picture and select this option from the drop-down menu.

Even though it should be available on your phone, the muting option is so new that it might not show up until the next time you update your Instagram app. When the feature does roll out, scroll through your feed until you reach a post you don't want to see, or head directly to a talkative contact's profile. Tap the three dots to the top right of that post or profile page and choose Mute from the menu. You can decide how comprehensive this silence will be by choosing to mute all posts or to mute both posts and Stories from the contact.

If you want to mute individual Stories but not posts, you follow a slightly different process: Tap and hold on any Story badge at the top of the feed, then choose Mute. This person's Story will gray out and move to the far right of the panel. After that, it won't show up when you play through unseen Stories.

You can easily undo Instagram muting as well. Either tap the three-dot button beside a post or profile, or tap and hold on a gray Stories bubble, to find the Unmute option.

Facebook

Facebook (for Android, iOS, and the web) gives you a few ways to control what you see in your News Feed. That includes options for filtering out certain people without actually unfriending them (imagine the scandal!). Here's how to take advantage of those settings.

Want to temporarily hide someone's posts from your feed? Facebook lets you snooze them: Tap the three dots to the top right of one of their posts, then choose Snooze for 30 days. After this short break, their posts will return to your feed.

Another option is to unfollow someone. This works a lot like mute on Instagram—that person's posts won't appear in your feed, but you'll stay friends with them, which means you can still view their profile, invite them to events, send them messages, and so on. Click or tap on the three dots at the top of any post to find the Unfollow option. Alternatively, head to their profile page, hit the Following button that appears above their recent posts, and choose Unfollow from the list.

Either way, your contacts won't receive any indication that you've snoozed or unfollowed them. And you can always bring them back into your feed: Go back to their profile page, tap or click the button marked Snoozed or Follow, and undo your previous change.

Twitter

Like these other networks, Twitter (for Android, iOS, and the web) offers a simple mute function. Tweets from muted accounts won't show up in your main Twitter timeline, but they will appear when you open conversation threads, and those contacts can still send replies and mentions to your Notifications tab. Unlike blocking, muting won't change your follower count, and the other party won't see that you've shut them up.

To mute someone, visit their profile, click or tap on the three dots to the top right of the profile page, and choose Mute. To undo the action, open the same menu and choose Unmute. You can also mute someone from one of their tweets: Click the drop-down menu arrow to the post's right and select Mute. Because the tweet then disappears from view, you'll need to head back to the person's profile page if you want to unmute them again.

Twitter also lets you review a list of people you've muted. Click or tap your avatar and navigate to Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Muted accounts. From this screen, you can also unmute any account by hitting the mute icon.

Instant messaging

Beyond social media, some of your friends also spam you with inane instant-message notifications. To shut them up, most popular apps let you mute alerts from specific conversations.

In WhatsApp, you can turn off alerts for specific conversations. Start by opening a thread that's becoming too noisy. Next, on Android, tap the three dots on the top right; on iOS, tap the group or contact name at the top of the screen. Pick the Mute option and then decide whether to silence alerts for eight hours, a week, or a year.

If you prefer to chat on Facebook Messenger, you can still turn off notifications. First, open any thread in your conversation list. On Android, tap the Information button (an "i" icon) to the top right; on iOS, hit the conversation name up top. Then tap Notifications > Mute Conversation. Finally, select a time period between 15 minutes and 24 hours, or opt to silence notifications until you manually restore them.

Apple's Messages app (for iOS only) lets you adjust settings for both SMS texts and iMessage threads. To mute any conversation, open it, tap the Information (an "i" icon) button in the top-right corner, and toggle on the Hide Alerts switch. Now the thread won't send you any alerts until you go back and enable them again.

On Google Hangouts, the process varies depending on which platform you use. On Android, you need to select a conversation in the main chat list with a long press, then tap the Mute button (a bell with a line through it). On iOS, you open that conversation, tap the three dots on the top right, pick Options, and turn off Notifications. Once you've muted a conversation, this setting will sync between all devices where you've installed Hangouts.

After all that muting, you should be receiving a lot fewer annoying notifications. And if your phone is still too noisy, then tailor the individual alerts you receive.