If you’ve visited your direct messages on Instagram recently you might have noticed that some users have green dots on the bottom right of their profile pictures. It’s a strange addition that goes a step further than simply letting you know when someone has read your message. This green dot is a way of letting you know when someone’s using the Instagram app.
This dot is part of the activity status update, which, according to the app, makes it more simple to “connect with friends on Instagram by showing you when they’re available to chat.” As if Instagram messages don’t send out notifications.
The green dot lights up when you’re friends are checking their Instagram feeds or looking through their conversations. You’ll be able to see this dot in your direct message inbox and on your friend list whenever you’re sharing a post.
If you thought that you understood this update, then hold on because it gets trickier. To be able to see someone’s green dot then you must have exchanged private messages with them in the past and they must also follow you back. So you won’t be able to snoop in on celebrities’ activity status.
This new update facilitates conversation among friends, but it also makes it hard for you to avoid or delay replying to someone’s direct message. By including this feature Instagram has found a simple way of encouraging people to spend even more time on the app, making users check through their conversations to see what their friends are up to and to check if someone interesting is available to chat.
Luckily, this feature is not mandatory. According to Instagram, you can shut if off by heading over to your settings, tapping on activity status and flipping off the switch. You can learn more Instagram’s activity status update on their info center.