Staying incognito on Facebook Messenger is difficult: as soon as you open a message, the sender gets a “seen” receipt. This makes it nigh-on impossible to wheedle your way out of dinners with distant relatives, five-a-side football games that you ill-advisedly agreed to in the pub and raucous group-chat “bantz”. But there is another way: with a simple smartphone trick and a browser plugin, you can secretly read Facebook messages… without feeling obligated to immediately reply.
Secretly read Facebook messages on your phone
Avoiding Facebook Messenger awkwardness on your mobile or tablet is a piece of the proverbial gateau. If you can’t handle yet another cat GIF from great-auntie Mildred, switch your smartphone to Flight mode and then read the message. Exit Messenger and switch Flight mode off. This means a receipt won’t be generated and you’ll be able to reply with the obligatory “LOL. Cute!” in your own time.
Secretly read Facebook messages on your PC or laptop
The process is even easier on your PC or laptop. If you use Google Chrome as your default browser, install the Unseen extension by clicking the big blue “Add to Chrome” button. Once it’s installed, Unseen will prevent a “seen” tick from appearing in both facebook.com and messenger.com.
As you can see from the image above, it’s also possible to get rid of Messenger’s irritating typing indicator. The settings can be accessed by right-clicking on the dark blue Unseen icon in the top-right of the window and selecting Options.
If you’re a Firefox user, the Message Seen Disable for Facebook add-on does exactly the same job. To install it, simply press “Add to Firefox” to read messages without fear of impatient messages such as “Well???” or simply “???” from your friends and family.
Read next: How do I mute a Facebook friend?