New Instagram update ‘potentially dangerous’ for female users


MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – With each new update on popular social media apps, it’s becoming harder to maintain privacy. Well now there’s a new update on Instagram you may not have noticed but probably want to shut off. An IT professor at Mercer says the new feature could be taking it too far.

“It’s just too much information–period,” said IT professor Cynthia Robinson.

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Three little words new to Instagram are making a big impact on privacy for app users.

“Sometimes I want to be online and I do not want to participate in posting and just want to enjoy the view, and so to have that information exposed–it’s uncomfortable,” Robinson explained.

‘Last Active Status’ is the latest update on the app and it shows other users through your direct messages when you were last active.

“I think that that could be potentially kind of creepy that people can see when you were last on especially if you don’t want to talk to them at that point in time. It’s kind of like an invasion,” said Mercer student Nicole Lutch.

Though it may seem like a small change, Mercer University IT professor Cynthia Robinson says she too believes this new feature could be potentially dangerous.

“Someone doesn’t have to request your permission to follow you on Instagram. You can just accept it where as on Facebook, friends of friends identify you so you feel a little more comfortable,” she said.

Because the change in lettering is so subtle, many users didn’t even realize it.

“I don’t use the DM feature a lot on Instagram so I didn’t really notice the active part of it,” said Lutch.

Turning the new feature off is a very simple and quick fix. You’ll just go to your settings and with the swipe of your screen, no more view to others of your last active status. Robinson says constantly being aware of these kinds of changes is the hard part.

“When they agree to use these services they agree to all options and it’s up to them it’s up to the user to turn it off or turn it on,” Robinson told 41NBC.

Instagram did not show that they added the new feature on their site, but they did give 41NBC the following statement:

“We’re always working on ways to make it easier to have fun, real-time conversations with friends on Instagram. We recently rolled out the ability to see when people you follow or message in Direct were last active on Instagram, and they can see when you were last active. This only appears in the Direct inbox and only the people you follow and send direct messages to can see your activity status. You can easily control the visibility of your activity status in Settings.”

User Emily Herron believes the change should’ve been made more public.

“I think when Instagram does something like that–that might raise some security concerns especially for minors and women– I think it should be announced by the developers when that change happens,” said Herron.

“You really have to be determined to change that setting otherwise it’s automatic,” Robinson added.

Robinson also recommends setting your profile to private if you have an account to limit who can see and who can message you.