Listen, I'm not gonna lie: I'm an Instagram lurker, OK? I just love looking at people's profiles and admiring the aesthetics they've curated. I don't think it's weird, and I'd be willing to bet that everyone reading this does it. However, I don't want people to know when I'm doing it, or how often; that's a little too much intel. Unfortunately, Instagram has begun rolling out a new feature that makes it possible for people know to that information. So just what is Instagram's "last active" feature? Lurkers, beware.
According to BuzzFeed, the feature — which is actually called Activity Status — lets people know when you're "online" or using the app. For most of us, I'd imagine that's multiple times a day, every day, sometimes for long periods of time. Of course, no one can see what you're actually doing on the app, but there is an opportunity for judgment if someone sees that I'm, say, using the app for an hour straight. Chances are, they know that I'm not replying to messages or scrolling through my feed that whole time. At a certain point, it becomes clear that you're lurking. Again, not that there's anything wrong with that, but still — just let me lurk in peace.
If Kim K can do it, then so can I, right? Don't blow up my spot, Instagram!
The good news is, the feature comes with a couple of qualifiers. The status doesn't show up on your profile or within your story or anything like that. Instead, it shows up in your direct messages, underneath the usernames of people you either have chatted with or recently tagged in Stories. Therefore, your Activity Status is not super prominent on your profile (thank goodness).
Additionally, not everyone can see your status. Only people you direct message and follow on Instagram will see when you were last using the app. If your account is public and someone who doesn’t follow you sends you a DM, they won’t be able to see your active status — unless, of course, you both decide to follow each other.
Whether or not this feature is available to you depends on what version of the app you have. An Instagram spokesperson told BuzzFeed that users of app version 25 and newer will have Activity Status soon, if not already. If you've updated your app since December 2017, this means you. Users who have not yet updated and are using version 25 and older will not be able to see their activity status. And if your version of the app does not support the Activity Status, then your friends can't see your status either, even if their own app is up to date.
Even with all of that said, this still sounds kind of creepy to me. Thankfully, there's a way to turn the feature off, and continue going about your Instagram business privately. First, tap the "Profile" icon on the bottom right of your app. Then, navigate to "Settings" and scroll down to "Show Activity Status." Then, slide the toggle to turn it off. When you turn the feature off, you will no longer be able to see other users' activity status either, so you'll have to decide if it's worth it to you or not.
This is a pretty big step in Instagram's development of its messaging feature, and it makes sense. In December 2017, the company announced that they were working on a separate app just for messaging, called Direct. The Activity Status feature definitely feels like another step in that direction.
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