A major part of social networking is being seen. From influencers to smaller accounts, we’re all trying to reach some kind of an audience and get engagement on our posts.

But that visibility isn’t always an asset. You don’t always want someone to see when you’ve read their message on Facebook Messenger, for example. Maybe you need time to think up a response or you just don’t want to be obligated to talk to the sender. It’s your prerogative no matter what the reason is.

Let’s just get this out of the way here at the start: Facebook Messenger doesn’t let you turn off read receipts. There’s no option in the settings tab to do so. You can trick the app into not showing a read receipt by disconnecting from the internet, though.

We’ll run through the steps to do so in this article. The process is kind of tedious but it will work in a pinch when you want to see what someone sent you without them knowing.

Facebook Messenger Read Receipts

When you send a message on Facebook Messenger, a small checkmark appears next to it so that you know the app has successfully transmitted it to the other user or the group.

Man chatting with friends on Facebook messenger mobile

Reading a message causes that checkmark to be replaced by a scaled-down version of the user’s profile picture. In a group chat, a string of profile pictures will appear so you can see exactly who of the group membership has seen the message.

If somebody sees your profile picture next to a message they sent you and you haven’t responded, they might think you’re ignoring them on purpose. Maybe it’s unfair to expect a quick answer to every message, but we’re constantly plugged in these days and tend to expect things to happen right away.

For those times when you either can’t or don’t want to respond, you can use airplane mode on your phone and disconnect from wifi on a laptop to view your Facebook messages without the read receipt ratting you out.

How to Turn Off Read Receipts on Facebook

Follow these steps to work around Facebook Messenger’s read receipts:

Step 1: When you see the floating icon on your phone or get a notification in your browser, don’t click on it. Don’t even navigate to the Facebook tab just in case the chat is active in that window.

Step 2: If you’re on your phone, swipe down to get to the quick menu and then turn on airplane mode. You can simply disconnect the wifi on a computer or you can get into airplane mode on that device as well.

Step 3: Make sure you aren’t still connected to a wifi network. Airplane mode should disconnect you already, but double-check, or else you could trigger the read receipt.

Step 4: Read your message and revel in your glorious secret.

Step 5: Close the Facebook tab or the Messenger application. Don’t just go back to the home screen. You need to fully close the app.

Step 6: Once the app or tab is closed, enjoy a brief moment of disconnectivity. Think about it… no notifications, no messages, no calls. You’re practically unreachable. Relish the solitude.

Step 7: Alright, who are we kidding. You have stuff to do. Connect back to the internet and do whatever you were doing.

Now you know what the message said and there’s no indication that you’ve seen it. Congratulations on hacking the system.

Beware the Active Status

Facebook Messenger shows people when you’re active with a green dot. It also tells other users the last time you were active.

If you’re going through this whole airplane mode process, you don’t want to ruin things by being clearly active for a long period and not reading the message. Luckily, there’s a hack for that too. The hack is to turn off your active status, which you can actually do in settings.

On the Messenger app, tap your profile picture in the top left corner. You’ll see a mode with a variety of options like Dark Mode, Message Requests, Notifications, Account Settings, and stuff like that.

Near the top, you should see an option called Active Status. Tap on it and you’ll see two options: one to toggle whether Facebook Messenger shows when you’re active and another that allows you to show when you’re Active Together.

The second option shows the other participant(s) in the chat not only whether you’re active but whether you’re both active in the same chat window. It’s a nice way to see when you have someone’s direct attention but it can also create expectations for an immediate answer.

Tap the slider by either option to turn it on or off. Simple as that.

Use Your Pulldown Notifications

If you have push notifications enabled for Facebook Messenger (they’re enabled automatically) you can just swipe down and see most of the message that someone has sent you. It’s way faster and easier than going through all that airplane mode stuff.

woman holding a 3d generated smartphone with notifications on the screen

But you won’t be able to see the whole message if it’s particularly long. If you have multiple unread messages, you’ll see even less. So while this is an easy tactic, you might not be able to get all the information you’re looking for. Pair this with the airplane mode tactic and you’ll be able to peruse your messages without tipping anyone off that you have.

Third-Party Apps & Extensions

Browsers like Google Chrome have extensions you can use to avoid triggering read receipts on Facebook Messenger. There are also some popular ones in the App Store and Play Store. These are typically pretty reliable and allow you to avoid the pressure to respond to any of your messages while still allowing you to continue using the internet.

MMB!

Social media etiquette is an oxymoron but many people do have some expectations. Beware of becoming the kind of person who never responds and never appears to read your messages or you’ll probably stop getting them.

That being said, it’s completely your choice how you want to spend your time. You shouldn’t feel pressured to engage with strangers or anyone else. That block button is sure helpful sometimes. But if you just need to buy some extra time and want to respond later, you can use the trick in this guide to read a message on Facebook Messenger without triggering a read receipt.