We may be overrun by more social networks than we know what to do with, but there’s no doubt in our minds that Facebook is an incredibly important platform. The service recently passed over two billion monthly active users, a number that is ludicrously large and means about one in three of every person eligible to sign up for a Facebook account uses one at least once a month. Facebook’s changed the way we communicate with others both in our area and around the world, allows us to keep our family and friends updated with personal and professional news no matter where they are, and entitles us to share ideas, events, and stories with communities at large. No matter how you view Facebook, there’s no doubt it’s changed the online landscape completely.
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At this point, Facebook’s been open to the public for more than a decade, and open to select colleges for nearly fifteen years. The online personas of the people we know and knew in real life can be entirely different, and this isn’t even accounting for how people change, grow, and mature from their teenage years into adulthood and beyond. The partial or total anonymity of both names and distance between you and them can create conflict online, which is why nearly every social network allows users to be blocked or banned from your specific feed. In this case, Facebook is no different.
But people both change and grow, and as life goes on, you may find yourself in a situation where someone you blocked five years ago is back in your life, or you realize the petty high school grudge that cost a friendship has blown by. Blocking someone on Facebook may seem permanent in the moment, because it effectively is—until you make the decision to go in and unblock these people on the site. But while blocking someone on Facebook is clear and easy, unblocking them is a fairly-hidden menu that might be difficult to find if you aren’t familiar with Facebook’s social tools.
If you’ve recently made up with a friend or family member once blocked on the most popular social site in the world, it’s time to unblock them and welcome them back with open arms. Let’s take a look at how to unblock someone from Facebook.
Unblocking on Facebook’s Desktop Site
Unsurprisingly, Facebook’s been forced over the past decade to introduce a fairly strict security suite to their platform, in order to ensure the safety of users on their platform. While Facebook has done everything in their power to try and help users get familiar with the platform, a large percentage of Facebook users might still not know about the existence of Facebook’s own security platform. If you’re one of the users of Facebook that hasn’t explored their privacy suite, you aren’t alone—and in fact, after this how-to guide, you’ll know a lot more about how that security works.
One of the most important aspects of Facebook’s entire privacy suite is the ability to view and manage your blocked users. This is where everyone you’ve blocked, over all the years of using and browsing Facebook, will end up. Random users whose comments were spam or trolling, old enemies from high school or college, all your ex-girlfriends or ex-boyfriends—they’ll all be here, sitting in limbo, assuming you’ve deleted your Facebook account permanently.
Of course, since you’re reading this article, you’ve come here to learn how to use this block feature to unblock someone. Let’s take a quick visit to the Facebook privacy center. Start by heading to Facebook’s home page and tapping on the small upside-down triangle in the right-hand corner. This will load a drop-down menu displaying a bunch of options, but we’ll want to view your account settings. Tap “Settings” to continue.
Inside your settings menu, you’ll find a bunch of different options on the left column of the display. Here’s where you’ll find all the privacy options for your account, but you’ll want to click on “Blocking” to manage the accounts you’ve blocked previously. This will load a page filled with a bunch of explanations of restricted lists, as well as a full list of your blocked users. You can use this list to unblock any user by tapping “Unblock” next to their name. This will prompt a warning explaining what happens if you unblock an account, which includes:
- The unblocked user being able to see your timeline (if it’s public) or contact you.
- Previous tags may be restored (these tags can be removed from your activity log).
- You won’t be able to reblock the user for 48 hours from the time of the initial unblocking.
All of this functions as a warning: proceed with caution when unblocking a user. You might not be happy with the results if that user is specifically vindictive or harmful, and you won’t be able to reblock them for 48 hours.
Unblocking on Mobile
If we’re being honest, most of us access Facebook not through our desktop or laptop, but on our iPhones or Android phones while we’re in line at the store, along for a long road trip, or taking a break between classes. You might not have the time to unblock people from your Mac or Windows PC, so if you’re looking to unblock a user from your phone, we have good news for you: it’s just as easy as unblocking a user on your desktop. Let’s take a look.
Start by opening up the mobile app on your device. We’ll be using an Android device running Android 7.1, but it should be relatively similar on both iOS and Android, regardless of what mobile operating system you’re using on your device. Once you’ve loaded your news feed, you’ll want to tap the app grid icon on your display. On iOS, the menu bar for notifications and other settings is at the bottom of the device, and you’ll want to tap the horizontal triple lines. On Android, all of your settings and options have been reorganized into a grid of icons, but for what we’re looking for, you’ll want to slide your finger all the way to the top of the list on your device. Instead of some of the more fun options like Memories or Nearby Friends, you’ll find settings for the app, your language, and most importantly, your Account Settings. On iOS, simply find the listing for “Account Settings.”
Inside Account Settings, you’ll find a menu that largely looks similar to the settings we saw on the desktop site above. Here, you’ll find an option for “Blocking.” Tap it to load up your list of blocked users. Like on the desktop site, every blocked user on your account will be listed here, along with an option to unblock that specific user and an entry field for blocking new users. Tapping the “Unblock” button next to any of the names on this list will prompt you with the same message we saw above, along with the same rules: the newly-unblocked user can see your unprotected information, may be able to send you messages, tags will be restored, and you’ll have to wait 48 hours to reblock them if necessary.
Once you’ve made up your mind, confirm this message by hitting “Unblock” on your phone or tablet. That user will be officially unblocked from your account, and will once again be able to see your name appear in Facebook results and any comments you may leave on the posts of mutual friends.
What happens with a blocked contact?
One frequent question we’re asked: what happens when you actually do block someone on Facebook? Some users have blocked friends and family members without truly understanding what’s been done by blocking them from the account. No worries—we’re here with a full explainer. Blocking’s not an overly complicated decision to make, but it’s good to know what happens once one of your contacts has been blocked.
As soon as you block that user, they lose the access to see your entire account. This means your posts, your photos, your tags, and even your account within search results. Effectively, you will have removed the privilege of that user being able to see your name on Facebook. Everything you post, say, share, or do will be entirely blocked from that user. If you’ve previously been tagged in their posts, your name will still be mentioned, but the link to your account will be removed from the tag (effectively creating a blank tag that just reads your name). This might create strange circumstances for the blocked user. For example, if you comment on a mutual friend’s status or shared post, and that friend responds to you, the blocked user won’t be able to see your post that gives the replies context. This is probably the biggest indicator that the user’s been blocked.
Facebook will not notify the user that they’ve been blocked, and unlike social competitors like Twitter, when you load the page of someone who has blocked you, Facebook won’t display a “You’ve been blocked” message. Instead, Facebook will load a generic error message letting the user know that the link they’re trying to access is either unavailable or broken. If you spend any time on Twitter, you know that letting your harassers know they’ve been blocked can create a toxic environment and invite additional harassment from other users. In this case, Facebook absolutely has made the correct decision—the entire point of blocking a user is to cease intimidation from other users, and their block interface definitely does a great job.
Other Options for Dealing with Users on Facebook
It’s worth noting that blocking users on Facebook shouldn’t be treated lightly. Blocks should be reserved for users who threaten, harass, or otherwise provoke you into feeling attacked, and if the situation escalates to that point, you should absolutely take advantage of the tools at hand. But if the problem isn’t dangerous comments or accusations from users, and is instead a problem with unwanted shares or posts appearing in your news feed, there’s an easier way to fix this that won’t create an environment where the other user feels targeted by your block. Hiding and unfollowing users is a less-confrontational way to deal with people who simply use the platform in a way you don’t agree with. Let’s take a look.
Load up your Facebook feed and enter the name of the user you want to unfollow in the search bar at the top of the site. Click on your friend’s account from the list. At the top of their account, you’ll find a few different options for their account, including an option that reads “Following.” Drop-down that menu and view the assorted options there. You’ll see three different options, two of which relate to following the user’s account, and a third that reads “Unfollow.” This will stop that user’s posts from appearing in your feed at any time, while still maintaining your online friendship with them. They can still see your posts, like and comment, and you can still view their posts by loading their direct profile.
Hiding posts is also an option, similar to unfollowing a using from their profile. From your news feed, find the post you want to hide and click the drop-down triangle on their post. You’ll see a couple options. The first is to hide that post, thus removing the post from your own newsfeed. The second option is to unfollow the user, exactly as we outlined above but without the extra step of loading up their individual profile. Finally, you can also report posts if you find them breaking some form of Facebook’s guidelines, which you can view here.
One last option: if one of your Facebook friends—say, a relative or a friend’s mother—is commenting on too many of your posts or photos, or you want to hide optional posts from them in order to prevent embarrassment or any other kind of reaction, we have the perfect solution for you. Instead of removing or blocking them from your Facebook feed, the next time you go to post something on your Facebook account, simply drop down the “Viewing” options on your post as shown below, and click on the “Friends, except…” or “Custom” option. You’ll gain the ability to hide your posts from specific users by entering their name into an easily accessible search box. You can add or remove these users at any time, and you can even customize posts later on in the future. It’s a great, underused ability that makes it easy to control the audience seeing your content.
Obviously, blocking is a great way to end harassment from other users on the world’s most popular social network. That said, it’s obvious that sometimes a block can be a bit too reactionary, or users can grow out of the want or need to block a certain user. That person you hated in high school might be a whole new individual after college, or you and your ex may have gotten back together. Regardless, unblocking users on Facebook is super-easy, and as long as you’re willing to accept the 48 hour period where those users cannot be reblocked, it’s an easy decision to make if you want to try to reconcile your relationship with that person.