If it can’t make you share more photos, Instagram instead plans to coax you into chatting, with a new feature underscoring the app’s direct messaging. Although direct messaged have long been offered on Instagram, they’re now getting status indicators which show whether someone is currently active.
It’s a page out of Facebook Messenger’s book, where green dots superimposed on contacts’ profile pictures show you whether that person is actively using the app and thus more likely to be available to chat. The green indicator won’t just be shown in the current Direct inbox, either. It’ll also show up elsewhere, such as in the friend list when you choose to share a post from the Instagram feed.
According to Instagram, only those people who follow you – or with whom you’ve already had a conversation in Direct messages – will get a status indicator. As well as the green dot, there’ll also be the most recent activity status shown in the Direct inbox. Again, as with Facebook Messenger, that’ll include things like “Active X minutes ago,” “Active yesterday,” “Seen,” and “Typing…”
It’s also possible to turn the whole thing off altogether, if you’d rather not have Instagram turn into yet another messaging app you’re forced to pay attention to. First, head into your Instagram profile and tap either the gear icon if you’re using iOS, or the stack of three dots if you’re on Android. Then go to Activity Status, and tap the toggle to switch it off.
Unfortunately, if you switch off displaying your own activity status to other people, you’ll also lose the ability to see their current status.
It’s the latest in a series of updates which attempt to bring a little more transparency to how Instagram works and how your contacts are using it. Earlier this month, the app rolled out a “You’re All Caught Up” feature which shows when you’ve seen all the latest photos and videos in your timeline. At the time, it was widely seen as a reaction to ongoing criticism about the algorithmic timeline, which many have said they’d prefer Instagram to ditch in favor of a return to a chronological display.