All Facebook accounts include the ability to send and receive text-based messages and video chats in real time. By default, the site grants permission to all of your Facebook friends to call or send you instant messages. However, you can control who can send you messages, request video chats and see you online on their friends lists by modifying your chat permissions.

Individual Call Permissions

Facebook automatically delivers plain text messages, but video chatting works a little differently. Each time you make a video call to another Facebook user, you must wait for the user to accept the call. Facebook allows users to call only other users they have added as friends, so you must also first request the user as a friend, and the user must accept your request. Once the other user accepts the incoming call request, the video chat window launches and the call begins.

Turning Chat On and Off

By default, your Facebook account has the instant messaging feature turned on. Your Facebook friends can see you on their chat lists, and can call you when you're on the website. Incoming instant messages immediately display in pop-up windows, and you receive incoming call requests instantly. To turn off calls and instant chat messaging, click the gear icon in the chat box, then select "Turn Off Chat" in the pop-up menu. Users can still send you private messages, but they appear in your message inbox. You can re-enable chat by clicking the "Turn On Chat" link in your grayed-out contact list.

Granting Permissions

You can enable chat and call permissions for individual Facebook users or friends lists that you've created. When you grant permissions only for specified individuals or lists, all other Facebook users will only be able to send messages to your message inbox, and won't be able to call you or to see you're online and available to chat. Click the gear icon in the chat box and then select "Advanced Settings" from the pop-up menu. In the dialog box that appears, select the radio button next to "Turn On Chat For Only Some Friends" and enter the names of the users or list of contacts to whom you'd like to grant contact permissions. Click the "Save" button to save your changes.

Removing Permissions

If you'd like to receive calls or instant messages from all but a few specific users, block incoming messages from individual accounts while leaving chat turned on. Click the gear icon in the chat box, select "Advanced Settings" from the pop-up menu, click the radio button next to "Turn On Chat For All Friends Except..." and enter the names of the users you wish to block. You can also enter the names of your contact lists. Click the "Save" button to make your changes permanent. All other users will still have permission to see that you're online, to call you and to send you instant messages.