Facebook is rolling out a new feature today that allows users to mute all notifications from the social network. The new time management tool is called Quiet Mode, and it first reared its head as part of a pilot that was quietly launched last month. It’s officially arriving for iOS users through the next month, and it will land for Android users starting in May.

The company is positioning the feature alongside its other response efforts to the COVID-19 crisis, and is bundled into the Facebook app’s Your Time on Facebook digital well-being suite that launched back in 2018. Quiet Mode represents part of a broader push by technology companies to address societal concerns about the negative impact of technology on our mental health. Indeed, there have been growing concerns about the harmful effects of smartphone and social media addiction, which may contribute to an increase in depression and loneliness — particularly in young people.

As people spend more time alone at home, it may become easy to fall into bad habits and spend even more time online. Quiet Mode is designed to address that scenario.

How it works

Quiet Mode allows users to access what is effectively a manual kill switch, so that all notifications are blocked. There are some exceptions to this; for example, privacy update notifications and other essential, legally required alerts will still go through.

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On iPhones, it’s already possible to mute notifications from specific apps, but the key difference with Facebook’s Quiet Mode is that you can schedule mute times, while blocking in-app alerts in addition to push notifications.

To access Quiet Mode, head to the main menu, then Settings & Privacy, then Your Time on Facebook, then tap Manage Your Time.

Above: Facebook app: Manage your time

Here you’ll see two switches: Quiet Mode and Scheduled Quiet Mode. The former activates a blanket block for all notifications, while the latter allows you to specify times and days when you want Facebook notifications off. You can schedule multiple Quiet Mode slots.

Above: Activating Quiet Mode in the Facebook app

With Quiet Mode on, users will see a message when they launch the app, reminding them that Quiet Mode is on and how much longer there is to go until it ends (if it’s on a schedule). However, circumventing Quiet Mode isn’t difficult: The user just has to hit Manage Quiet Mode and then End Quiet Mode. Alternatively, they can choose to access Facebook for 15 minutes, which will keep notifications muted but give them just enough time to check their News Feed or post a message.

Above: Managing Quiet Mode in Facebook

Digital well-being

Android now ships with a built-in Digital Wellbeing toolset, which offers a number of features to help people manage their screen time more effectively. This includes Focus Mode, which allows users to choose the most distracting apps on their device and “pause” them all with the toggle of a switch — this also includes an optional scheduling feature. And users can also glean insights into their smartphone usage on a per-app basis.

What Facebook is doing is bringing similar functionality to its mobile app, so users can at least try to spend less time on Facebook.

Alongside Quiet Mode, the company is also adding some new stats to its See Your Time feature, including week-over-week trends, the number of individual visits that they make to the app, and how much time they spend on Facebook at nighttime versus daytime.

Above: Facebook usage dashboard

Additionally, Facebook is adding a couple of shortcuts to Notification Settings and News Feed Preferences inside the Your Time on Facebook dashboard.

Aside from new features, Facebook said that it will also be sharing tips and resources from the World Health Organization (WHO) on how people can adapt to their new lives staying at home, including ways to stay active, relieve stress, and set new goals and routines.