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How To Tell When Someone was Last Active on Instagram

Posted by Jamie on November 7, 2019

Instagram is one of the few social networks aside from Facebook and WhatsApp that notifies people when you were last seen on the app. It also shows when you’re online, when you’re typing and so on. You can see when your friends were last on Instagram and they can see when you were last there too. It’s a neat system that will either work for you or against you depending on your situation.

For the most part I think this is a good feature. You can see what friends are online, when they were last online and see if they uploaded anything new. You can also see if they haven’t been using Instagram for a while so won’t have seen your message which is why they haven’t responded.

It isn’t all good though, as you may not want everyone you follow to know when and how often you use Instagram. For that you might want to turn off notifications. I’ll show you how to do that in a minute.

Last Seen on Instagram

Last Seen works for people you follow or have Direct Messaged before. People who follow you will not see this status unless you follow them back. Only people you are following can see this data. It’s a small distinction but an important one as it allows a semblance of control over who sees what.

  1. Open Instagram and select the paper airplane icon in the top right to access your Inbox.
  2. Check beside each message thread to see when the person you messaged was last on Instagram.

This status isn’t in real time but is updated every few minutes it seems. So if it says someone was last online 6 minutes ago, it could be anything from 5 minutes to 10 but will give you an idea.

Turn off Last Seen in Instagram

If you find this creepy or want to stay under the radar for a little while, you can turn this feature off. You will no longer show up with a last seen status in your friends’ message Inbox. On the flipside, you won’t be able to see anyone else’s last seen status either.

This seems to be a mechanism to keep you from lurking and seeing what others are up to without having to reveal anything yourself. I think this is a fair system and encourages people to be as open as they can be while still offering the opportunity to be private when necessary.

To turn off Last Seen, do this:

  1. Open Instagram and navigate to Settings.
  2. Toggle Show Activity Status to off.

From now on, the time you were last active on Instagram will not appear in feed of the people you follow or have DM’ed. You will also not be able to see when they were last active either.

Last Seen in Instagram isn’t necessarily evil

When Instagram first launched the Last Seen feature last year, it didn’t go down too well. Most people cited security or privacy fears because people would know when they were using the app. While there is credence to some of that, most of those fears were unfounded.

First, Instagram only shows the last seen status to people you follow or direct message and nobody else. Your random followers won’t be able to see it unless you follow them back. If you don’t want individuals to see when you’re online, don’t follow them.

Second, it allays some of the anxiety that comes with social media. Namely that of the delayed response. There are lots of Instagram users out there who will begin to panic or become angry if you don’t respond to a DM or messages within 30 seconds. Showing them that you haven’t been online since yesterday is the ideal way to avoid this awkwardness. They know you haven’t been on Instagram so won’t expect an instant response. Problem solved.

Third, if you use Instagram for business or promotion, responding quickly is important there too. Having it plain to see that you haven’t been online all day will help manage the expectations of anyone who wants to talk to you without causing them to think you’re ignoring them.

There is of course a case for letting out TMI by allowing Instagram to tell the people you follow when you were online. Compared to the information we willingly release about our whereabouts and activities on social networks and the fact you can control who sees it negates a lot of this. Plus, you can disable it whenever you want a little alone time.

What do you think of Last Seen in Instagram? Use it? Hate it? Give us your opinion below!

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