Why Can't I See Some of My Friends Online on Facebook?

By Tony Allevato

Facebook's messaging system enables you to chat in real time with your Facebook friends. It shows you which of your friends are currently online by placing a green dot next to their names, so that you know who might see your message soon and get back to you. If you do not see any friends online, then you may need to adjust your settings to enable the chat system.

Turn On the Chat Feature

If your friends aren't showing up as "online" on Facebook, the first thing that you should check is that your have the chat feature turned on. If the "Chat" button in the lower-right corner of the window reads "Chat (Off)", then click on it to turn on chat and display your list of online friends.

Turn On Chat for Individual Friends

On Facebook, you can turn chat on for some friends and turn it off for others. If you have chat turned off for a friend, then that person will not appear to be online to you. Click a friend's name in the chat list to pop up the chat window. Next, click the gear icon in the upper right corner of the chat window. If the third menu option is "Turn On Chat for (Friend's Name)", then select it.

Your Friends Might Be Mobile

If some of your friends use Facebook mostly from their smartphones, then they will not appear online in the same way as your friends who use Facebook from their computers. Instead of the green dot that indicates online friends, your mobile friends will have a small gray phone icon next to their names. Even though they do not appear online, feel free to start a chat session with your mobile friends, since the message usually go straight to their phones.

Some Friends May Have Chat Turned Off for You

Just as you can turn off chat for individual friends in your Facebook friend list, your friends can also turn off chat for you. If they have done this, then these friends will not appear online for you. You can send offline friends a message through the Messages interface or ask those friends to turn on chat for you.