Facebook now lets you temporarily “snooze” people for a set period

Update: After first being spotted in the wild in September, it appears that Facebook has now rolled out the ability to snooze people worldwide: just in time to get them to shut the hell up about their holiday plans. It’s a Christmas miracle! However, in our testing we only found the option to snooze for 30 days, contrary to earlier reports that there would be a range of options.facebook_snooze_live

The original story continues below.

Facebook is very good at letting people brush difficult conversations under the carpet, while at the same time making you feel like you’re making a bold statement of defiance. To that end, you don’t need to unfriend somebody to end their never-ending wittering: simply unfollow them, and you won’t see them anymore. They won’t be any the wiser: no mess, no offence.

The latest tweak to this forced politeness policy is the ability to “snooze” people who are inconsistently irritating, rather than terminally tedious. Currently in testing, Facebook will let you unfollow friends, pages or groups for 24 hours (“shut up about The Apprentice already”), seven days (“shut up about your holiday already”) or 30 days (“shut up about the election already”). You can, of course, still unfollow them permanently (“just up about everything already.”)

The benefit for Facebook’s users is obvious – unfollowing people is a blunt instrument, and bringing them back to your timeline is a slightly unwieldy process where you have to actively seek lost friends out and follow them again. A 30-day “snoozed” period is like a trial separation: you may find you missed them when they return, but if you don’t you can make things permanent.

It’s a good thing for Facebook too, which thrives on people having lots of strong networks to function effectively. More people followed means more advertising opportunities and more chances to draw you to the site with “on this day” messaging, and updates from friends. It also ties in with the company’s new mission statement which talks about building community. It’s hard to build a community if people keep muting each other at the first sign of disagreement.

There is something quite artificial about Facebook’s answers to disputes though. While this solution is reasonably elegant for people who are just oversharing, it does seem to avoid having difficult conversations with people that are being obnoxious. Muting friends without them knowing is an easy way get out that will avoid drama, but sometimes for everyone’s benefit you do need to clear the air. That, for whatever reason, is not something Facebook wants on its hands, or its servers.

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