What Does “Active Now” in Instagram Actually Mean

Instagram is the most popular social media app today. The Facebook-owned social media application is focused on sharing photos, videos, and connecting with others. Generally a little more positive than it’s sister site, Instagram makes strides to protect the user experience.

With read receipts, the ability to see who has viewed your Instagram story, and analytics for businesses, Instagram seems to focus on keeping you in the know. Since December 2017, One feature that’s not so unique is the activity status which indicates your exact time of using the app.

Additionally, they added the green dot next to users’ names, indicating that they are currently online. This might not sound like a useful and harmless feature, but it definitely has some disadvantages.

Who Can See That You Are Active Now?

To clear things up, your activity status is only available on Instagram Direct, which is the equivalent of Facebook Messenger. People cannot determine if you’re online just by looking at your posts or stories. All they can find out is when these were uploaded.

When you enter Direct, you can see the list of all your chats and their timestamps. If you are following a person, and the person follows you back, you can see whether they are momentarily online in the direct messaging part of the app.

You will see a green dot under their picture and Active Now status. However, you can’t get this information if a person hasn’t followed you back or sent you a DM. If you can see that someone is active now, they will know the same thing about you.

This is a subtle change in how Instagram Direct works, and many users didn’t notice when it was first introduced.

How to Disable Active Now Status

Luckily, you can disable this option entirely. Remember that if you do this you won’t see other people’s activity status either.

Here are the steps to follow in case you want to disable the Active Now feature:

  1. Go to your profile.
  2. You will see a circle-shaped Settings icon. Tap on it.
  3. Select Privacy and Security (lock icon).
    instagram settings
  4. Tap on Activity Status.
    instagram privacy
  5. It will say Show Activity Status and you can disable it here.

instagram show active status

You will notice that this option is set to be ‘On’ by default. It may be disquieting to realize that this feature is on without your consent, given that it concerns your privacy. Understanding your privacy options will make you better prepared to protect what others see in regards to your online activity.

Is Instagram Becoming More Like Facebook?

Part of what made Instagram great was how you could casually browse content, uninterrupted, whenever you felt like it. But this is no longer the case. Your friends can see you online and hit you up anytime, which can be overwhelming, especially if more people do it at once.

There are some other controversial changes worth thinking about.

The feed used to be organized in chronological order, but they changed it so that ad placement would feel more natural and organic. This means if you want to get regular updates on a profile, you need to check it out directly, instead of relying on your feed.

The “Seen” feature can also be very annoying, as you don’t always have enough time to reply to people instantly. If you see a message and wait minutes or even hours to reply, the other person might get mad at you and feel like you are ignoring them.

The Elephant in the Room

Nobody likes to talk about Internet stalking but we all have to acknowledge that it exists. Instagram is a social place with millions of daily users. It is bound to attract some stalkers, as well as people who have a bad sense of boundaries. Unfortunately, these people won’t hesitate to use your ‘Active Now’ status against you, calling you rude or snobbish for not replying.

Miscommunications are also frequent on this platform. Everyone is occasionally eager to engage in communication with a person who does not feel the same way at the moment. It can be difficult to get out of responding to messages, even if you like the person on the other end.

Active Now – Accuracy

You may see a friend’s status as inactive, yet they just uploaded a post. There are delays and glitches with the activity feature that lead to discord within someone’s relationship. For this reason, we feel it’s important to point out that the ‘Active Now’ status isn’t always accurate.

It’s been reported that some users have seen up to ten minutes of a delay before either showing online or inactive. The same goes for the ‘Last Seen’ feature. Just because it says someone was online 20 minutes ago, does not mean that it’s accurate or that they didn’t suddenly become busy.

Worrying about whether someone has seen, read, or received your communication is a basic drawback to modern communication technology. If you’re looking for an exact way to monitor other users’ activities, you’ll be sad to know it isn’t entirely possible.

What if You Don’t See the Green Dot?

If you are positive that a mutual follower is active and you don’t see the green dot it’s possible there’s a slight glitch or delay. Technology isn’t perfect.

More than likely that user has their activity status turned off in the settings as mentioned previously. Don’t let the missing green dot deter you from sending a message though, most users have notifications turned on. Instagram also offers read receipts so you’ll know as soon as your message is read.

There are ways to bypass Instagram’s read receipts of course. To reiterate; technology isn’t perfect so these features help you to stay updated on the activity of others, but it isn’t one-hundred percent accurate.

It Is Up to You

Should you turn this feature off? This is your call to make. You can decide to live on with this option enabled and receive messages whenever you are online, or you can disable it and stay private.

What are your thoughts? Are you on the social side or do you prefer quiet feed browsing? Let us know in the comments!

One thought on “What Does “Active Now” in Instagram Actually Mean”

Avatar Anna says:
But what does it mean when it says “active now” but no green dot.

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