A photo of the Instagram app, which has an Activity Status indicator.

Here's How Reliable Instagram's Activity Status Indicator *Really* Is

Take that green dot with a grain of salt.

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If you use Instagram with any regularity, you may have noticed it lets you view when another user was last on the app. The activity status feature tells you when a person is actively using Instagram and how long it’s been since they were last active, making it easy to tell if someone is actually leaving you on read. But how accurate is Instagram’s activity status? Here's what to know about it, and how to check when your friends are online.

First, what is the activity status feature? It was first launched on Instagram in July 2018. Basically, if a user is active on Instagram, a small green dot will appear next to the person's Instagram handle name and photo in your DM inbox and in your friend list when you go to share a post that’s on your feed. So, if you see that green dot next to the person's name, that means the user is currently on Instagram. Even if someone isn’t on the app at the moment, you can see the last time they were active in your DM inbox. Next to the person's username, you might see notes like "active 25m ago" or "active yesterday." Now keep in mind, you will only be able to see this feature for those people and accounts that follow you, or those you’ve interacted with via DMs.

Not a big fan of having your followers see your activity status? If you’d rather fly under the radar, you can turn off the activity status feature with a few simple steps. Just go to your user account page, then tap the three black lines in the upper right hand corner to access your Settings. The next screen shows all of the different options associated with your Instagram account. Select the one that says Privacy, and then tap Activity Status. Here, you'll have the option to turn the activity status feature on or off by clicking the toggle button. White indicates that the feature is off, while green means that the feature is on.


When you turn the feature off, other users won't be able to view your activity status. However, this also means that you won't be able to view the activity status of other people that you interact with.

There are times on Instagram when you won’t be able to see someone’s activity status, and there are a couple of different reasons for this. For one, you won’t be able to see the activity status for anyone that you haven’t engaged with via DMs. If that’s not the answer, it’s possible the person has their activity status toggled off in their settings, meaning you can’t see theirs and they wouldn’t be able to see yours. If that’s still not the answer, it’s possible that they blocked you. (I’m sorry!)

Now, let’s talk about how accurate the activity status feature is. I decided to put it to the test myself and it seemed pretty on point, but there is definitely a little room for error. When I was online using the app, a green dot appeared next to my username. It really does light up when you're using the app and have the activity status option flipped on. After closing out of the app but leaving the activity status feature on, after a little time it said I was active 15 minutes ago.

That's not to say Instagram is 100% perfect — if someone checked my activity status sometime between me being active and the time the “active 15 minutes ago” stamp showed up, it’s possible my activity status wasn’t actually correct. So it’s a good idea to take some of the timestamps with a grain of salt — it’s possible that someone still had the Instagram app open when they locked their phone and put it away, or had Instagram open in a browser tab they weren’t really looking it, and Instagram might still read their activity status as active. That said, you should feel confident that the green dot is a pretty fair indicator of when someone is actively on Instagram.

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