Instagram’s newest feature may present a problem if you’re trying to fly under the radar.
On Thursday, the photo-sharing network debuted its latest update — a way for folks to see when their Instagram friends are online and, therefore, available to chat. If it sounds familiar, that’s because it bears a striking resemblance to parent company Facebook’s “available” status indicator on Messenger. It even looks the same. As Instagram noted, “When your friends are active on Instagram, you’ll see a green dot next to their profile picture in various spaces within the app, including the Direct inbox and your friend list when you share a post from feed.”
This doesn’t mean that you’ll suddenly be able to see the online or offline status of everyone on Instagram. Rather, you’ll only see statuses for friends who follow you, or users you have messaged in Direct. And don’t worry — if you really don’t want people to know when you’re online (we understand), Instagram has made it just as easy to hide your status and turn off the ability to see when your friends are active in your settings. If you’re really intent on staying incognito, that’s still possible.
So why introduce this feature at all? Instagram explained, “DMing friends and connecting over the content you love is more fun when you know your friends are there to see it. This update gives you the ability to have more of those realtime conversations while giving you the control to hide your status altogether.”
Instagram has rolled out a series of updates in the last several months, including a feature that tells you when you’re all caught up so that you can escape from the abyss of endless photos and videos, as well as an option to remove followers, even if your account is public. Put together, Instagram is slowly giving users more control over their profiles and presences — which seems to be an all-around win for the millions of folks posting, sharing, and scrolling every day.