How to ignore people on social media without blocking or unfollowing them

Your obnoxious relatives will never know.
An unlocked iPhone on a white table with its apps showing various notification icons and alerts.
Notifications can be annoying, but so can what you see on social media itself. Rahul Chakraborty / Unsplash

This story has been updated. It was originally published on May 30, 2018.

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.

How to mute people on Instagram

Instagram offers the option to mute any of your contacts. Under this setting, you won’t see their posts… but they won’t know. 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 the relevant option from the drop-down menu.

As for muting, there are two paths to silence: through posts and through a person’s profile. If you see a post that you’d rather not see, tap the three dots in the upper right corner of the post and select Hide. This will relegate that person’s posts to a lower position in your feed, but it won’t mute them entirely. To do that, select the Mute option from the text that replaced the post you just hid. You can decide how comprehensive this silence will be by choosing to Mute Posts or Mute Posts and Story.

If you have a troublesome contact in mind already, you can head directly to their profile and tap the dropdown menu under their bio that says Following. From there, choose Mute, and use toggle switches to mute their posts, Stories, or both.

If you want to mute individual Stories but not posts, you’ll follow a slightly different process: Tap and hold on any Story badge at the top of your feed, then choose Mute. Instagram will use this opportunity to ask if you’d like to mute their posts, too. Whatever you choose, their 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 Following drop-down menu on their profile and turn off the Mute toggle switches or tap and hold on a gray Stories bubble, to find the Unmute Story option.

How to snooze people on 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.

[Related: Make Facebook useful by turning off all its annoying features]

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, retaining the ability to 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 Friends or Following button that appears above their recent posts, and choose Unfollow from the list.

Whatever you do, 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 Friends or Following button to follow them again, or look under their posts for a “snoozed” notification and hit the Undo button.

How to mute people on 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 replies and mentions from those contacts will still show up in your notifications. 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 in the top right of their 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 three dots 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 the main Twitter menu (three lines) in the top left and navigate to Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Muted > Muted accounts. From this screen, you can also unmute any account by hitting the mute icon.

How to mute instant messaging apps

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 always.

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 the Mute icon (a bell) at the top of the screen. Finally, select a time period between 15 minutes and 24 hours, or opt to silence notifications until you manually restore them.

[Related: The best apps for self-destructing messages]

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 person’s name, then the info icon (an “i” in a circle), and toggle on the Hide Alerts switch. Now the thread won’t send you any alerts until you go back and enable them again.

If you use Google Hangouts, know that Google is currently retiring the app in favor of Google Chat, which you can also access through the chat feature in Gmail. The company has automatically moved all your conversations from the messaging app onto the new platform, and you can access them by downloading the new Google Chat app for Android or iOS or (on Android) by opening the Gmail app and tapping the chat button at the button of your screen. To mute notifications across all platforms, open the chat you want to silence and then tap on the name of the person or the group chat. Then, use the toggle switch next to Notifications to mute and unmute them. For those who still have the standalone Hangouts app, open a conversation, tap the three dots in 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 Chat or Hangouts.

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