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Do Instagram DMs Have Read Receipts?

Posted by Jamie on April 17, 2019

I think it fair to say that the inclusion of Instagram Direct has gone down well in most situations. There is one aspect of it that doesn’t seem to be going down so well, those read receipts. Do a search on the subject or browse your favorite news website and you will see all sorts of opinions on those receipts, most of them negative. So why do Instagram Direct Messages have read receipts?

Both Instagram and Facebook have read receipts for messages. I think such things are everything that’s wrong with social media right now. I’m sure in their ivory towers in Silicon Valley where social networks still think they are a force for good, adding the ability for a sender of a message to know whether it has been delivered and then read is a good thing. Without considering the bigger picture as per usual.

The problem with read receipts

Instagram Direct has Seen, Facebook Messenger has the little profile picture once it has been read, in Snapchat the arrow changes color, WhatApp and Twitter have the little checkmarks, the list goes on. All so the sender knows when their message was delivered and will be notified the second you open it to read it.

Great in theory but not so much in practice. When you send a message and it sits in Seen status with no reply, things get weird. Few of us consider the person is working, with family, doing something more interesting than checking social media, in hospital or any of the number of things we do every day where phones don’t have a place.

Instead we imagine what we have may have done to annoy them. What we could have said to make them ignore us for the three minutes since our message changed to Seen. We imagine what we have done to make them resent us or want to willingly ignore us.

If you’re the recipient, the pressure is on you too. You know that once you have read the message the countdown has started. The clock is ticking to reply before the above begins to take place. Before paranoia sets in and a flurry of further messages arrive, ‘Are you okay’, ‘What did I say?’ or ‘Why do you hate me so much?’.

Social media has given us so much but has also taken so much away. It has taken our privacy, our downtime, quiet moments and the ability to do our own thing in our own time. We are assumed to be available at all times and be always in a place to respond to every message every time no matter what else is going on in our lives.

Turning off read receipts

Some social networks like WhatsApp and Twitter allow you to disable read receipts. In theory this avoids all the social anxieties of having them. But it doesn’t. Instead, it seems to be assumed you have something to hide or are purposely messing with people by not letting them know they have been heard.

This, admittedly limited survey or read receipts over at Medium gives a good insight into how read receipts affect people. The survey showed 35% of senders felt ignored if they saw a read receipts but got no immediate reply while almost 14% said they felt anxious. For those who received the message, 36.6% of those who received the message said they feel pressured to respond.

While the survey is anything but scientific, it illustrates just how read receipts are ruining what should be a pleasurable communication between friends.

Avoid read receipts for Instagram Direct

As this article refers to Instagram Direct, let us concentrate on that. The bad news is that there is currently no way to officially turn off read receipts. Zuckerberg et al still think they are a good idea and won’t allow us to opt out. That said, this is the 21st century and there is always a way to get what you want.

Here’s how to avoid sending read receipts in Instagram Direct.

  1. Don’t open the DM when it arrives.
  2. Turn on Airplane Mode on your phone.
  3. Open the message and read it.
  4. Shut down Instagram completely on your phone.
  5. Turn off Airplane Mode.
  6. Don’t open Instagram until you can reply.

It’s a workaround but it does work. This is a bit of a clunky workaround and once you have opened the message to read it you’re going to have to shut down Instagram completely until you’re ready to reply to the message.

Read receipts are a force for evil and should be avoided wherever possible. As a paper exercise they make perfect sense but like many paper exercises, they fail completely once human nature gets ahold of them.

What is your opinion on read receipts? Like them? Loathe them? Tell us about it below!

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