What Does It Mean on Facebook When Someone's Name Pops Up on Chat on the Bottom Right Corner?

by Beth Bartlett

The Chat feature on Facebook has evolved from a static list to a sidebar that’s constantly updated based on your latest activity. Thanks to the social media site’s latest algorithms, you have more options than simply turning Chat off if you don’t want to see someone’s name at the top of your Chat list or if you have a special friend you’d like to add.

Updating Chat

Facebook pays attention to the people you interact with on a daily basis. If you’ve recently commented on a status or posted on someone’s wall, for example, the site updates your Chat list with those frequently contacted friends at the top. The update is automatic, so the names change often depending on the people you talk or otherwise interact with the most. Note that Chat updates include only interaction in your open timeline; interactions in closed or secret groups are not reflected in the updates.

Selecting Chat Friends

You can’t manually add names to the top of your Chat list, but you can reduce your Chat list to your favorite people. Click on the "Options" icon at the top right corner of the Chat window, and then select "Turn Off Chat" to bring up a pop-up window that gives you the option to turn off chat with all friends or choose a handful of friends who can see you on Chat. Manually enter the names of those friends to have Facebook create a new Chat list for you with those people at the top.

Receiving Chat Messages

Facebook’s Chat and Messages features are connected. If a friend who isn’t on your narrowed Chat list tries to chat with you anyway, that message goes straight to your Messages inbox. You can privately send and receive messages with that person without activating your Chat window or changing your settings. If your Chat is open and active, and the friend is on your Chat list, his name pops up with a message in your Chat window.

Using IM Programs

If you want to use Chat without logging in to Facebook, you can download Facebook Messenger, a separate Instant Messenger, or IM, client. Your Chat list is then transferred to the IM application and you can customize your list just like you can at the main Facebook site. When you customize your list, you see your favorite friends pop up to the top of your Chat box. Your Facebook information is also compatible with third-party IM applications like Pidgin -- available for Windows, Mac and Linux -- as well Apple’s iChat.

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About the Author

Beth Bartlett has been freelance writing for nine years, and her work has appeared in such publications as "Meetings South," "Angels on Earth," "American Profile," and "Mental Floss." She also writes a weekly humor horoscope column for print and the Web.

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