Instagram’s latest update contains a somewhat disturbing new feature.
Just as with Facebook and Messenger, Instagram will now display to followers when you were “last active” on the app, including if you’re currently active. The new feature, which is called, “Activity Status” has caused concern among some users, who took to other social media sites (namely Twitter) to express their worries that being able to track someone’s activity on Instagram like this will increase abuse and make it easier for some users to ‘cyberstalk’ others on the platform.
Turning it off
There is a way to turn the new feature off, which would protect your privacy and give no option to view your “Activity Status”.
Go onto your account and press the settings cog icon located to the right of the “Edit Profile” icon underneath your follower and post stats.
Scroll down to the section of account preferences with the slide buttons. The option to “Show activity status” is the last preference in the section, located just before the Support section of options. The feature will already automatically be turned on. To turn it off, simply slide the button across – it should turn from blue to grey.
This feature can be turned back on or off at any time in settings.
Why this feature is unpopular with users
Before it was revealed that this feature can be turned off, many Instagram users commented that they were considering boycotting the app in a similar fashion to the way some are calling for a boycott of Facebook. The feature when activated puts some users at risk of abuse, as allowing trolls and stalkers to know when someone is online makes targeting them easier.
Last year, a report by Ditch the Label, an anti-bullying charity, revealed that Instagram was the worst social network for bullying. Of the young people surveyed for the study, 7% said they had been bullied on the app, 40% reporting feeling bad if the selfies they posted on the app didn’t receive any likes, and 35% said that the number of followers they had directly impacted their confidence. Of the bullying statistics, in particular, 6% of young people said they had been bullied via Facebook, 5% on Snapchat and 2% on Twitter and YouTube.
Also worryingly, many charities have warned that cyberstalking is a practice that is increasing year by year, and often leads to cyberbullying or online scams that include (but aren’t limited to) identity theft and fraud.
Impact on businesses
For businesses, this update can be good or bad, depending on how you use Instagram. To be able to view when your followers and those who follow you are active means that users can tailor your post times around when the greatest quantity of followers are online, making sure your post has the most impact in way of impressions, likes and engagement. However, if you’re a busy business that doesn’t spend a lot of time on Instagram, potential clients may feel discouraged in reaching out to you via the app because of your inactivity being visible.
In deciding whether or not to keep this feature live on your Instagram account, consider carefully if it will help your account for others to be able to view your activity status, or hinder it.