How to Keep Group Chats From Driving You Mad

By David Nield on at

There you are, minding your own DM business, when all of a sudden you’re added to a group chat with a bunch of other work colleagues, neighbours, parents, old school friends, or people probably, maybe going to a party in three weeks’ time. You don’t have to settle for this shoddy group chat etiquette – here’s how to stay out of it.


WhatsApp

WhatsApp just gave users a handy new feature to stay out of as many group chats as they possibly can. If you open Settings inside the app then choose Account, Privacy, and Groups, there’s a new list of options that lets you set who is able to add you to a group: Everyone, My contacts, or My contacts except....

For the minimum number of interruptions, you need to choose My contacts except... and then tap the Select all button (top right) on the next screen. If there are a few close friends and/or family members you trust to add you to group chats, then you can deselect them from the list before confirming.

Anyone you’ve excluded from adding you to a group chat can still invite you, but it doesn’t happen automatically. Instead, you get an invite over direct message, which you can choose to accept or ignore (these invites expire after three days).

If you do find yourself locked inside a group chat that you’d rather not be anywhere near, you can opt to mute notifications from it by tapping the Menu button (three dots, top right) inside the conversation then choosing Mute notifications. Alternatively, choose More then Exit group from the same menu to get out of it entirely. You’ll have the option to keep or delete the group chat history you’ve been a part of so far.


Facebook Messenger

Many of us still have a Facebook profile, even if we don’t actively use Facebook all that much, and that means the risk of getting added to a group chat is always high – it could be neighbours on your street, it could be parents from your kid’s sports team, it could be a friend advertising a small side business.

There’s currently no way on Facebook to stop your friends from adding you to group chats or one-on-one chats. Messages from people who aren’t already friends with you get filtered into what are called message requests: You can see these on the web by clicking the Messages button (top right) then Message requests.

Your only options on Facebook Messenger are to either be more careful about who you make friends with on the social network or to get out of group chats at the earliest possible moment. To leave a group from your phone, tap the “i” button (top right) inside the thread and Leave group (Android), or tap the group name inside the thread then Leave Chat (iOS).

If you’d rather lurk in the group to see what’s being said, but not actually get any notifications from it, tap Notifications (Android) or Receive Notifications (iOS) from the same menu, and you get the option to mute the conversation – the muting can last for anything from a few hours to whenever you unmute it.


iMessage

Apple’s proprietary iMessage service is the same as Facebook Messenger – there isn’t really any way to proactively prevent your friends, family, and acquaintances from adding you to group conversations. If someone is persistently adding you to chats, then you can block them: Follow the contact link at the top of the conversation then choose Block this Caller at the bottom of the page.

Besides blocking people, which maybe isn’t an option for those you need to stay on good terms with, the best you can do is mute your group conversations or get out of them entirely.

To mute a conversation, tap the top of the conversation, then the “i” information button, then turn the Hide Alerts toggle switch to on. The same option can be found by swiping left over a group conversation in the main list.

If you want nothing whatsoever to do with this new group that you’ve been added to, tap the top of the conversation, then the “i” information button, and then select Leave this Conversation. For this option to be available, all the participants must be using iMessage (if someone is on SMS, you can only mute the alerts).


Instagram

Technically, there’s no way of stopping people you’re following on Instagram from adding you into group chats. If you’re not following them, any attempts to message you or add you to a group chat go to a special requests folder (if you’ve got any of these, you’ll see a small Requests link at the top of the direct messages screen).

If you do find yourself getting added to numerous group chats, you can at least disable alerts for these events on your phone. Open up the Instagram Settings screen from the Profile tab, then tap Notifications, then Direct Messages, and then turn the Group Requests checkbox to Off.

Besides that, you’ve got the usual two options if your friends and family keep adding you to group chats (besides the rather drastic step of blocking them): either muting the conversation or getting out of it. To mute a group chat on Instagram, tap the “i” button up in the top right corner, then turn the Mute messages toggle switch to on.

Conversations are muted indefinitely until you unmute them again. On the same screen, you’ll see an option to Leave chat, which does exactly that (unfortunately, your so-called friends can still add you back in again, if they want).


Twitter

Lastly, we have Twitter, which lets you have ‘open DMs’ (any Twitter user can message you or add you to a group chat) or ‘closed DMs’ (only people you’re following can message you or add you to a group chat). Open the app menu on your phone (tap your avatar), then choose Settings and privacy and Privacy and safety to set your preference.

Even if your DMs are open, messages from people you aren’t following – including group chat requests – don’t arrive directly, but appear under Message requests in your inbox. You then have the option to either Delete or Accept the group chat request.

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There’s no specific way to stop people you’re following from adding you right into a group chat – presumably, you know them in some capacity, which is why you followed them. You can at least mute notifications from the conversation by tapping on the “i” button in the top right-hand corner, then turning the Mute conversation toggle switch to on.

To get out of a group conversation you’ve grown tired of or want nothing to do with from the beginning, again you tap on the “i” button in the top right-hand corner while you’re in the conversation, and this time tap Leave conversation.