When someone pisses you off on Facebook, the logical, natural response is to lob over the nuke—block them, and you’ll never have to deal with anything they say on the social network ever again. It’s a refreshing feeling, but it’s also a wee extreme for minor infractions.
Thankfully, Facebook gives you a digital arsenal for dealing with annoying people on its platform. And we, at Lifehacker, recommend having a graduated response on social media. Tempting as it is to tell off or block everything that annoys you, you have plenty of other options for reducing the impact stupid Facebook people have on your daily life. Here’s a handy escalation chart.
Step one: Ignore them
They say that the first step is always the hardest part of any task, and that couldn’t be more true when you’re dealing with someone who opposes your political/social/moral views on Facebook. Like that computer from WarGames, sometimes the winning move is to not play the game at all. When someone says something that offends you, or posts something so stupid you can’t help but comment—don’t. Do nothing. Scroll your mouse down a bit, take a deep breath, and carry on with your day.
Believe me, I know the temptation to tell someone off who has posted something so pedantic that it cries out for a witty retort. It’s hard to be the better person sometimes, but you’ll be a lot less stressed if you try.
Step two: Snooze them
One of my absolute favourite tools for dealing with annoying people on Facebook is what I like to call the Penalty Box. Facebook’s Snooze feature is a godsend for addressing stupidity. If someone posts something annoying, and you kind of have them flagged in the back of your mind as someone who always posts something annoying, you can give them a temporary shushing.
Tap on the triple-dot icon on one of their posts in your News Feed and select the Snooze option, which basically unfollows them for a 30-day period. When they pop back up in your life, maybe they will have chilled out about whatever topic it is that annoys you so greatly. (And yes, snoozing works with brands, too.)
Step three: Prevent annoying people from seeing what you do on Facebook
If your Facebook foe keeps sliding into your profile page and leaving all sorts of stupid comments, memes, or screeds on your posts that could have benefitted from the slightest bit of fact-checking, you can stop them. Simply add this person to your Restricted friend list.
When you do, they’ll only be able to see posts you’ve made public for the world to enjoy or posts you’ve specifically tagged them in. Anything else will be invisible to them, and they won’t be able to make stupid comments on it.
Step four: Prevent stupid people from talking to you
If your Facebook enemies—or bothersome people—like to hit you up over Messenger and pester you with mindless conversations, you can prevent them from ever noticing you’re available to chat. On the desktop version of Facebook, click on the gear icon in the lower-right corner (under your Chat sidebar). Select “Turn Off Active Status,”
Add a person to your “Turn off active status for only some contacts...” list, and they’ll never see when you’re online. That won’t prevent them from messaging you, but it might help discourage them from striking up a chat, since you’ll never appear online ever again.
And if you need a little more oomph than that, click on the gear icon and select “Block Settings,” and then add the person to the “Block messages” section. Consider it to be a mini-blocking; they’ll still see you around Facebook, they just won’t be able to talk to you via Messenger.
(While you’re here, note the “Block app invites” and “Block event invites” sections, too—they’re incredibly useful if someone is spamming you with either.)
Step five: Lock down your Facebook a little bit more
If you’re tired of being tagged in posts, pictures, or anything else by people who won’t stop pulling you into drama, you can limit them by visiting two sections within your Facebook settings: “Privacy” and “Timeline and Tagging.”
Within “Privacy,” you can restrict the audience for your future (and past) posts—a more permanent form of the aforementioned “Restricted” list, if you didn’t want to go that route. You can also limit how others can find you on Facebook, in case someone who is annoying you has been trying to drum up support from others, the kind of digital army-gathering that can sometimes happen when you square off against someone you don’t know in a comment thread.
The “Timeline and Tagging” section lets you limit who gets to post on your timeline—and who can see what others post. I’m a big fan of the “Review” option, however, which allows you to decide, every time you’re tagged in a piece of content, whether you want that to appear on your timeline or not.
Step six: Launch the mini nuke
While this next step won’t prevent a person from bugging you on Facebook, it’ll at least reduce any and all connections you have with a person to just your standard, boring online friendship—that’s it. On the web, pull up the profile of the person who is annoying you, click on the triple-dot icon next to “Message,” and select “Block.” From there, click on the “take a break” hyperlink within the text.
You’ll now get three options to play with: one for seeing less of the person around Facebook—including any prompts from the service that you should message or tag the person in any content—one for limiting what they can see of you on Facebook (which we’ve covered), and my favourite option, “Edit Who Can See Past Posts.”
Click “Edit Who Can See Past Posts,” and look for the “Edit all my posts and posts I’m tagged in.” Select that, and you’ll untag yourself in anything you’ve been tagged in together, untag yourself in any of your enemy’s posts, and Facebook will remove anything you’ve posted on each other’s timelines. It’s a great way to break any and all connections with a person without blocking them, and useful if you never want them to, say, appear in any “memories” posts Facebook likes to hit you with.
Step seven: Take it to DEFCON 1 and deploy the block
Ah, the block. We have finally come to the end-all, be-all move for getting rid of an annoying person on Facebook. Blocking is easy, and you’re given multiple ways to do so across the Facebook apps and website. And when you do this, you’re basically invisible to the person who has offended you.
Unblocking a person comes with two caveats. They’ll be able to see you on Facebook once again, but you won’t be reconnected as friends; you, or them, will have to make a friend request of the other (if you’re back on speaking terms). Also, you can’t just block and unblock willy-nilly. Once you unblock a person, you’ll be prevented from re-blocking them for a bit of time—usually a few days—so don’t just treat this step like a high school disagreement. Blocking is serious business, man.