For all of its advantages, Facebook Messenger isn't the best for people who like their privacy. The popular app lets all your Facebook friends know when you're online by default, as well as how long you've been idle, making it impossible to check up with one person without leaving yourself vulnerable to your entire friends list. Luckily, this feature is one you can turn off.
By default, the activity status is on, and when it is, friends and contacts will see a green dot or a time next to your profile picture indicating when you were last active. These statuses show up in other areas of the Facebook and Messenger apps, as well. And if your friends have activity status enabled, you'll see the same thing for them.
Facebook used to make disabling your Active Status tricky, especially on iOS. We suspect that the company did not want users turning statuses off quickly, possibly to make it more likely for friends you contact you more frequently. However, with Facebook implementing better privacy controls and its initiative to make its Messenger app similar on both iPhone models and Android phones, the option is now identical on both platforms and makes a lot more sense than it used to.
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To hide your activity status, tap your profile icon in the top left to open the Settings menu. Then, tap "Active Status" under the Profile settings. Next, tap the slider next to "Show when you're active," then select "Turn Off" on the pop-up, and your Active Status will be disabled.
You can still message friends and start new conversations, but none of your contacts will see you as active. Also, you won't be able to see if anyone of your friends are active either, nor how long they've been idle. If you need to re-enable the status, follow the above directions again, or tap the "People" tab at the bottom of the display and tap "Turn On."
There is one catch to this, however. Facebook states, "If you turn off Active Status in one place, you'll still appear active or recently active anywhere else you're using Facebook or Messenger unless you also turn off the setting in those places." What that means is that if you use Facebook or Messenger on other devices, you need to disable it there too or when you use those devices you're Active Status will be, well, active.
This article was produced during Gadget Hacks' special coverage on texting, instant messaging, calling, and audio/video chatting with your smartphone. Check out the whole Chat series.