A new “snooze” button on Facebook lets users temporarily mute a friend, page, or group

Take back (some) control.
Take back (some) control.
Image: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
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Our Facebook news feeds are littered with dreadful crap. Well aware of this issue, the social-media behemoth is testing out a new solution: the Snooze button.

As TechCrunch reports, the new feature allows you to temporarily “snooze,” or mute, a Facebook friend, Page, or Group for either 24 hours, one week, or 30 days.

Snooze offers a milder alternative to Facebook’s unfollow feature, introduced in 2012, which allows you to entirely banish a friend, Page, or Group from your news feed. As for ex-pals and former flames you never want to see again, un-friending remains an option (be sure to do it right).

The feature allows you to temporarily block posts from friends who are suddenly, and obsessively, posting about a topic in which you have zero interest, while giving you the option to start seeing their posts again once they’ve calmed down. It also could benefit Facebook Groups and Pages, enabling them to retain followers they’d otherwise lose to over-posting.

Not all Facebook users presently have access to Snooze, as it’s one of many features Facebook is presently testing. “One of the things that I’m most proud of and I think is really key to our success is this testing framework we’ve built,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently told Reid Hoffman on the podcast Masters of Scale. “At any given point in time there isn’t just one version of Facebook running, there’s probably 10,000.”

At Facebook, any engineer is allowed to test a new feature on a limited subset of people (usually between 10,000 and 50,000 users, says Zuckerberg). “Giving people the tools to be able to go get that data, without having to argue whether their idea is good through layers of management before testing something, frees people up to move quicker,” he told Hoffman. “If the thing doesn’t work, then we add that to our documentation of all the lessons that we’ve learned over time.”

Facebook has confirmed the existence of the Snooze option, but as my colleagues and I have yet to encounter the option on our own Facebook accounts, we refer you to TechCrunch to see their screenshots showing how it works.

At Quartz, we’re big fans of snooze buttons. They give users some control over the content their exposed to. In a social media context, they may help us waste less time mindlessly scrolling. After all, in the time we spend on social media each year, we could read 200 books. But make no mistake—Snooze may feel like an efficiency play for your news feed, but it is also surely an effort to lure us into logging ever more hours on Facebook in the long run.