The Chat functionality built into Facebook's desktop website enables you to talk in real-time with friends over the Web. If you wish to, you can disable the Chat feature while still browsing the Facebook site as normal. If Chat isn't functioning correctly, an error message will usually display when you log in.

Disabling Chat

Chat can be disabled by clicking the black cog icon beneath the contacts list on the right and choosing "Turn Off Chat." Select "Advanced Settings" if you want to appear offline only to certain groups of people. When chat is disabled, the contacts list is grayed out and a "Turn On Chat" link appears, enabling you to switch the instant messaging functionality back on.

When You Are Disconnected

If you choose to turn off chat, the contacts window fades to gray and you cannot send an instant message to any of your online friends, nor see their current status. You can still send messages through the Messages section of the site, and even open these conversations in Chat-style pop-up windows. The main difference is that you cannot see the recent status of your friends and whether or not they are currently online on the Web or on mobile.

When Friends Are Disconnected

If one of your friends has chosen to switch off Chat or isn't currently logged on, that person disappears from the Chat window on the right-hand side, which shows online contacts first. If you type the user's name into the Chat search box, you'll either see a note regarding when the person was last online or no symbol at all. You can still click on an offline name to send a message, but the recipient may not receive and read it for some time.

Technical Problems

It is possible that technical problems with the Facebook platform or just the Chat functionality can cause you to be disconnected from the service. As a result, you may see a blank Chat window or get an error message when attempting to chat with your friends. Check the Facebook Platform Status page or the Known Issues page in the Help Center to see if any problems have been reported.