On Facebook Messenger’s Read Receipt Feature

Facebook messenger read receipts

If you use Facebook Messenger, you’re likely familiar with the “handy” little feature that shows the sender of a message when the recipient has read it.

On a web browser, it just says, “Read Thursday 1:23pm,” etc. On Facebook Messenger mobile, it shows the recipient’s profile picture when they have read it. My conclusion about this feature is …

It is creepy.

I don’t think I am alone in that sentiment.

This feature has at least two ways to make people feel anxious or uncomfortable.

First, if you send someone a message, you see they read it, then they don’t respond immediately, or even soon. If you’re feeling or are naturally insecure, this feature may amp up that sensation. “What the hey! How come they haven’t written back yet?!”

On a side note, I find that to be one of the major cons of the digital & social media age – a new unwritten expectation of being available constantly.

Second, the other side of the equation is more of a burden in my opinion. I DON’T THINK IT’S ANY OF YOUR BUSINESS TO KNOW WHEN I READ YOUR MESSAGE. For one, it breeds the insecurity I mentioned above. I always thought read receipts on regular email were invasive, too. Perhaps that is why they were never widely adopted.

Why I Could Do Without Them

I resist the notion of read receipts because I find them to be an invasion of privacy, as well as an invitation for the message sending party to expect an instant response. Perhaps that is a faulty perception on my part, but that is how it seems.

Many of us lead busy lives and try to fit social media in amongst the cracks and transition periods in our schedules. (As an aside, it is easy to spend way too much time on social media without meaning to, as I wrote about earlier.)

Let’s say I read your message in the downtime right before an appointment. You see that, but then the remainder of my waking hours that day are already accounted for, and I don’t plan to get back on social media.

Or, let’s say your message includes a solicitation or a question that I need to think about, research, or check with other people, who also have busy schedules, before getting back to you. I may not have time to do that research in the next 24 hours, but I know you know that I’ve seen your message. Ah, the dilemma.

My desire to be a reliable friend, family member, and colleague compels me to respond to messages as soon as I can — sometimes even pushing aside things I had planned to take the time to reply — and sometimes because I feel an unspoken pressure to do so.

Wrap Up

That captures the heart of why I so dislike read receipts. I’d prefer to reply to messages with a thorough, thought out response, on my terms and timeline. Not just because someone sees that I’ve read it and expects an instant response.

All that to say, I wish there was a way to turn off read receipts on Facebook Messenger (particularly on mobile). In looking into this, I did see some helpful articles on the topic; one that contains some workarounds, and another that has an idea for how to turn it off on a regular web browser.

Anyone else out there think read receipts are creepy? Comments always welcome.


7 responses to “On Facebook Messenger’s Read Receipt Feature”

  1. I hate read receipts too, and I wish there were an easy way to turn them off in Facebook messenger and Instagram.

    1. Summer Sorensen Avatar
      Summer Sorensen

      I agree!

  2. I’m with you! It’s creepy and annoying and makes you feel anxious. I wish it would go away.

  3. If I can I try to work around read receipts by only relying on notifications but not into the actual app where it will then record me. That said I don’t mind when people respond in their own time if I am not asking a timely question, and in timely conversations I do like knowing if they’ve read it or not because if they don’t respond I assume to move on and say call them instead or ask someone else to take my extra ticket

  4. I hate read receipts also. One of the things I like least about social media is the feeling that everyone needs to be accessible at all times.

    1. Summer Sorensen Avatar
      Summer Sorensen

      I am right there with you, Jenni!

  5. I agree – That is a totally creepy feature of Facebook – Among others!

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