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When two or more people chat together, Seen by appears when one of the participants views the last message.

It is nice to know your message has been viewed, but it is also an invasion of privacy.

How can I disable Seen by so that people do not see Seen by nic?

(using the desktop web interface, not mobile)

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@JacobJanTuinstra: I used to accept an answer but then better answers appeared. I prefer to let people vote for a while, as solutions/add-ins are appearing/disappearing fast. –  nic Oct 11 '13 at 0:13
    
How long is a while ? :-) I take you know you can change which answer (if any) you accept? –  pnuts May 8 at 18:42
    
Accepting an answer would make it appear on top, and thus influence/bias the votes. –  nic May 9 at 1:52
    
Good riposte! (Though that's by design so holding fire too long seems to me somewhat 'against the rules' here). Not having offered an answer here myself I may perhaps point out that it also could be depriving someone of a reward that is a key element of how the whole of SE works. Also, you are being inconsistent as your accept rate is good. –  pnuts May 9 at 6:54
    
@pnuts: I usually accept an answer when I am perfectly happy with it. I am not really happy with any solution here: The 1st is too technical, the 2nd does not work anymore, ... I believe there is still space for a much better solution. Also, you probably have already seen questions saying "My question is same as question X but X's accepted answer is broken"... that's what would probably happen here. –  nic May 9 at 7:21
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10 Answers

The only thing you need to do is block the URL:

facebook.com/ajax/mercury/change_read_status.php

For Chrome, use the extension "FB unseen" which blocks the URL (full disclosure: I wrote this extension). If you want, with a little work you can use almost any adblocker to achieve this. But with "FB unseen" you can "Mark as read" whatever you want, so you can decide for yourself when the "Seen" flag is set.

One drawback of this extension is that all your messages will be marked as unread for yourself, too, and the "unread messages" notification stays visible as long as you do not reply (or explicitly mark it as read).

Another drawback: there are ads (which you can disable).

Update: Facebook requested me to take the extension down since it violates their Terms of Services. Since it was developed open source and the source is available at GitHub, I updated the link to point to the GitHub Page. To not risk any more trouble with Facebook, I will not provide an instruction on how to install extensions manually and will also not continue developing it. The extension was previously available at https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ihcedcpmfdpjijiamkaeaefgfagnnpei, you can find a couple of alternatives in the store by searching for them (until they get enough users and also taken down).

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5  
Is it possible to block this through AdBlock Plus? What filter should I include? –  galacticninja Dec 1 '12 at 13:32
    
    
Any recent updates to this extension? Does it still work? –  SamtheBrand Aug 13 '13 at 19:11
    
So you can read the message without sending and ajax response that it's seen? I don't understand why Facebook whines: whenever a mail/chatmessage opens it should be considered read and there would be no workaround... –  Calmarius Oct 16 '13 at 14:53
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"FB Not-Seen," a chrome extension that I made, used to prevent messages from being marked as seen. It also used to keep track of how many messages have been "unseen" and can be turned off and on easily. Unfortunately, I sold it and it is no longer available in the Chrome store.

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This is a much more convenient solution than the currently accepted answer, I hope the asker changes their mind and accepts this one. –  Koviko Jun 10 '12 at 16:55
    
Nice! Any similar extension for Firefox? –  nic Jul 25 '12 at 4:36
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Can you please update the link? It doesn't seem working now. –  Meligy Sep 10 '12 at 9:17
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Point of interest, if you're linking to something you wrote, you should disclose that information. –  Zach L Jun 17 '13 at 21:03
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A lot of negative reviews in the Chrome store about how this is adware. Anybody have any recent success with this extension? –  SamtheBrand Aug 13 '13 at 19:09
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In AdBlock Plus or a similar extension that can use ABP filters, simply add the ff. as a custom filter, which will disable the other party from receiving the 'seen by' notification:

facebook.com/ajax/mercury/change_read_status.php$xmlhttprequest

Another option is the SocialReviver extension (available for Firefox, Opera, RockMelt and Chrome), which allows you to customize Facebook in various ways, including disabling the other party from receiving the 'seen by' notification.

If you'd rather not use any of the above browser extensions, you could also just archive the message from your message inbox (by pressing the 'x' button on the left pane), sending it to the message archive. The message will remain unread, sending no 'seen by' notification to the other party, and will now be gone from your inbox (you can still view it later if you chose to at the message archive).

Archiving a Facebook message

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Saved my day. Thanks mister. –  Ayesh K Sep 14 '13 at 1:16
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You cannot. There is no option to turn it off with Facebook UI.

Workarounds

Theoretically, you could kill all internet connections on clicking the message icon and prevent Facebook from using an event listener to check when you opened the message.

Messages icon

Going by this assumption, I'm saying that the read receipt shouldn't fire until you actually open a message as you are not able to read all of it. Still going on assumption, if Facebook preloads the message before sending a receipt and before you kill the data you should be able to inspect it. Then you would have to look into the timing of the message.

Another way would be if you do not have a window open with Facebook allow the notification to go to your email and reply from there.

A third way would be to access your data via the API using the Graph API explorer http://developers.facebook.com/tools/explorer/?method=GET&path=me%2Finbox which would honestly be a pain.

All in all it would just be easier to open the message and let the read receipt send. BlackBerry users (such as myself) have had to deal with this for years :S

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The graph API explorer solution works, thanks! –  nic May 28 '12 at 7:57
    
Just used the Graph explorer successfully! I'm sure that there has to be another solution out there though –  Casebash Jul 5 at 10:25
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Another Chrome extension: Facebook™ Chat Privacy

Facebook Read Status Disabler automatically blocks "seen" + "is typing" status confirmations in Facebook Chats and Messages.

The extension has overwhelmingly positive reviews at the Chrome web store.

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I've created a simple Facebook application that uses the Graph API to access your messages and display them in an intuitive way: Unseenly

With Unseenly you can always check your messages without "being seen" and without having to install a browser extension.

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I did some tests. Even after installing the app, "Seen by" still appears (when app not open). Does it mean I must keep the app running in its tab at all times? Even with the app open, the usual chat popup opens... when that happens should I close it and use the Unseen UI instead? It looks very neat but I guess a short help page could be useful. Keep up the great work! –  nic Jul 25 '12 at 4:50
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Preventing the cause implies preventing the problem. A person has “seen” your message when:

  • For the messages window— when they have clicked on your message from the messages window. Prevention: don't click on their message. Just view its preview.

  • For the chat window— when the user, in any way, has interacted with the chat box. You can, fortunately, know if a person has the “seen” message. When you receive a new message and it opens a new chat box, you can see a blinking title bar [of the chat box]. If you click on the chat box in any way, the blinking stops. So, blinking implies... not yet “seen”. Prevention: just look at the message but down click the chat box. That includes closing, minimizing, just clicking et cetera.

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That's what I was guessing but without being sure... I will test, but in any case do you have a reference? –  nic Nov 28 '12 at 1:28
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Assuming you are using Facebook messages via a desktop browser, you have plenty of options here. If you are using Facebook messages on a mobile device, try PrivyChat for Android or Unread for iOS.

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I just made this and it doesn't rely on any browser extension - Facebook Ghost Messenger allows you to read messages without notifying other participants.

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Does this app work? Anybody have any experience using Ghost Messenger? Does it work well in mobile? Curious about user experiences with this. –  SamtheBrand Sep 10 '13 at 17:43
    
Try my answer below (webapps.stackexchange.com/a/49768/16932) if you are on a mobile device. –  Gaia Sep 21 '13 at 4:35
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I've written http://www.inboxn.com/facebook-unseen#whatis

Reading your Facebook message with it does not mark them as seen.

Being a separate website, you can still go on Facebook and set your messages as read/seen. This allows you a greater control whether or not your friends can see that you have read their messages.

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protected by Community Aug 1 '12 at 7:31

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