It's getting increasingly difficult to ignore someone online without them knowing it. Instagram's latest DM update adds to the challenge.
Yesterday, the app introduced a new status activity notification in Direct, which will show when the people you message or follow were last active on Instagram. The notifications, similar to those you see on Facebook's Messenger, appear in light grey text beneath your followers' names in your inbox. Statuses include real-time updates, such as "seen", "typing", "active yesterday", and "active 12m ago". If you tend to communicate regularly with the same individuals or groups of friends on Direct, you might find these helpful. This, certainly, was Instagram's motivation behind adding the feature.
"We’re constantly working on ways to make Direct the best place to have fun, real-time conversations with friends," an Instagram spokesperson told Refinery29. "We’ve heard from our community that the ability to see when friends were last active helps them feel more connected as they go back and forth in Direct."
But for those coworkers or friends you would rather not reply to in a timely fashion, statuses could create some Taylor Swift-level bad blood offline. Luckily, there's a way to avoid this problem altogether and hide your status. Go to your Profile and tap the gear-shaped Options icon. Scroll down to Settings and toggle off "Show Activity Status." You can't have it both ways, though: When you turn off your status you won't be able to see statuses for anyone else.
Granted, activity statuses in Direct are not the only way you can tell when someone was last active. If you regularly post Stories, your followers may already know when you are and aren't online, so it's worth being cautious if you want to avoid hurt feelings. Statuses merely make it easier to know when someone last opened Instagram, without looking at your feed.