Facebook’s “Message Seen” Feature Is Your Obsessive Girlfriend’s Dream Come True

By: Josh Wolford - June 8, 2012

Ok, before you say anything about the gender choice in the title, let me be clear – obsessive and paranoid boyfriends could become just as entrapped by Facebook’s new “Message Seen” feature as anyone. I’m a guy, so I chose girlfriend – I’m on no mission to reinforce stereotypes. Just don’t yell at me, internet peoples.

Sorry about that – it seems that everyone’s paranoia is rubbing off on me.

And what are they paranoid about? Apparently, Facebook users no longer feel that they can ignore people on purpose because now, that person will know they’re ignoring them. Not only that, but the ignorees now have to sit there, staring at their computer (or phone), wondering why nobody wants to respond to messages that they’ve clearly read.

In terms of new Facebook features, the one that’s causing this uproar is pretty small. It’s no Timeline or News Feed redesign. It’s merely a few words added to the messaging interface. But to many, this tiny addition is a massive invasion of privacy.

For those of you who may have simply glossed over this recent update, here are the basics:

For both mobile and desktop Facebook chatters, viewing a message that you receive will mark it as seen. Your conversation partner will now see something like “Seen by Josh, 11:46am.” According to Facebook, messages will be marked as seen if the recipient is actively chatting and when they check their messages.

I’m sure you are already thinking about various situations where this could be unbearably awkward. Friends, significant others, family members might see that you’ve seen a message and expect a decidedly quick response. And if they don’t get one, well, fans shall be assaulted with shit. If you’re ignoring them on purpose, well, that’s your decision. But what if you simply saw the message and are crafting a lengthy response, or you plan to get back to them later?

reddit user MrNotSoSure asked the /r/facebook subreddit “How the hell do I stop Facebook from telling my friends I’ve read their chat message?” He had an interesting hypothetical scenario to share with us:

If you don’t know what I mean, let’s say a friend will write to me “Hey, want to go killing baby seals later?”. Since I can’t be bothered replying to that I just read the message and move on with my life. They will see in their chat window “Read 14.45″ and reply back “Hey fuck you man, at least respond. Just trying to get something nice organized!”


Bradley Wint at What’s Hawt detailed a similar (minus the clubbing seals part) scenario where Facebook’s new Message Seen feature created some confusion between him and some friends who wanted to go on a trip:

Later on I ended up receiving a number of phone calls from them but chose to ignore them because I was talking to someone else, and I simply had not made up my mind about the situation just yet. I later got another Facebook message from them, confirming that I did read the messages. They also came to the baseless conclusion that I did not want to spend time with them at the beach, which wasn’t true.

Only after the incident did I realize what had happened to me. I felt as if my privacy had gone out the window in the snap of a finger. While the issue really exists on a people level, I think Facebook should have accounted for such a thing by not allowing others to monitor your every step. I’m now at the point where I have to seriously contemplate whether I should check my Facebook messages.

I can definitely understand why someone would want to let their messages pile up, unread, due to the concern that they would encounter one they didn’t want to respond to and the sender would know they are being ignored.

If you want some NSFW thoughts on the new feature and how it could affect a relationship between a girl and some guy, check out this YouTube video:

A Facebook spokesperson told the LA Times that “knowing when your friends see your messages means you no longer to have to wonder if a message you’ve sent was received and is a lightweight way to make your messages more conversational.”

Maybe so, but the implications of this little tweak could wind up causing heavyweight problems for some people. Yes, it’s nice to know if someone has seen your message. In some circumstances, it could put your mind at ease. “Oh good, John saw that we changed the time of the movie to 9.”

But the feature also has the ability to play with insecure minds and cause some truly unnecessary kinks in relationships. I mean, if we can no longer ignore people on Facebook – what’s the point, really?

About the Author

Josh WolfordJosh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf

View all posts by Josh Wolford
  • Sam

    Here’s an idea: Don’t use Facebook chat? I mean, there’s plenty of other excellent chatting alternatives that actually specialize in being chat clients rather than being extensions of an information-hungry social network.

    • Elle

      Actually, ALL messages, including ‘regular ones’ have this feature. It’s esp awkward if you forget things a lot, because I do that. I respond later cuz i am forgetful.

  • http://kingstarprofitworld.blogspot.com King Samuel Benson

    If this new feature is only effective while the user is actively chatting when he/she receives and reads the message,then maybe mobile web users will be spared the headache.

  • http://www.jasjotbains.com Damien

    This is a dream come true for every perv and every obsessive girl !!!

  • http://www.epoolonline.com pool online

    This is a really bad idea . Why should i wonder if my message was sent or actually seen ? Offcourse it was sent. I still do the same thing even if the sender gets notified.. if i don;t have anything to say or simply i don;t want to give a response i just don’t answer ! And i do this to people i don;t care. If you do that to friends maybe they are not your friends trully. Just sayin.

  • Helpful Dude

    I agree that this feature is pretty invasive. Luckily someone made an google chrome extension to prevent people from knowing when you have read their messages. Here’s the link: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/gfjpoahaombpolfifdahikhbdnjjeifk/reviews

  • joe

    that’s a great feature and a welcome one too. if you want to ignore someone then probably your not a friend he wants to keep anyways. the same goes when someone intentionally ignores you after seing your message. why the hell do you want to ignore people?????? its your fault not facebook’s fault.

  • Jan

    Even worse is if you have that person to be shown as OFFLINE to them, it STILL tells them that you have received their message!!!

  • Anonymous

    Hey dude
    Cool article there.
    Got a qn : what if I sent a message to someone some 2 days back ( Okay, a good friend but kinda moody) while chatting with them, and the friend just stopped replying weirdly, that last message isn’t marked as ‘seen’, the friend has been online occasionally over the past two days, I chose not to ping them again since there’s been no reply…and that message (definitely not along the line of seal killing) has still not been ‘seen’ 😀 I know they could just let messages pile up , which they have never done before but…could it be possible that they just deleted the convo wihout reading it? 😀

  • jane

    i dont have that feature..my friends do so i thought i would try and find info on it…does anyone know why i wasnt given the “seen” thing?

  • Dolores

    How about, if you don’t want to have anything to do with someone who you claim to be friends with – tell them, as opposed to ignoring them until they get the message!

  • Mary

    Super awkward. I invited, via Facebook message (I had no other means of getting a hold of these relatives) some of my family of origin to my new house for the holidays. We used to be very close but lost touch. Now we live a couple hours from each other. I see that they’ve read it, and what time. I get no response, maybe for a couple months, and then they reply, “Sorry, we are never on Facebook and just saw this now,” etc. and reasons for not coming. Now, we are all guilty of this sort of thing to various degrees, but they certainly knew I saw that they got my invite. Make up something, but it makes me wonder if they just forgot about it and then felt the need to make an excuse or if there’s a reason why we drifted apart that I’m unaware of (in other words, they are avoiding me). What do I make of this?

    Also, I have a blog site. I’m allowed to see what cities and countries are visiting my site and I have some relatives in very small towns, so I know when I get get 10 “hits” from a town of 300 people, they are not looking for an attorney 1500 miles away. I post my blog on Facebook and know they read it, and no one bothers to even click the “like” button. Ouch. They know I’m just starting this up and I’m new to this. Perhaps I’m being sensitive, but it does bother me.

  • kmac

    Don’t be such a daft paranoid freak. Read the message and leave it at that. Anyone in the right mind will be satisfied you read it and happy that you did.

    The weird shit happens when you then mark it as unread and pretend you never. What is wrong with you???

    Read it and then relax. There’s no rush to reply. Set your own pace. If you don’t like people just delete them from facebook and stop trying to intellectualise your own social awkwardness by blaming them. Have a heart and keep it simple. Read is read. Leave it at that.

  • Hutanex

    not all people are the same they have their good traits and bad one’s but maybe to some they feel like a need to reply but they just can’t cause they do not know how to say “no”

  • sandra johnson

    I’d like MY choice back as to whether I want them to know I read it or not !! That’s MY privacy, not for FB to decide !!! If someone knows how to turn it off please tell me !!

  • balashi

    There are times I’m glad that I see someone got a message – particularly when it is a simple message of information – “good, now I know they know the plans” … but, there are certain people that I like and that I want to be more interactive with, and while I understand social media is no guarantee of a friendship, still you can’t help but feel directly offended when someone is online, you send a message, they read it, then they NEVER respond … EVER! What the hell!?

    I ALWAYS acknowledge a text, call, email… whatever! Even as simple as “okay” or “lol” or a smiley… just to let them know, “yes, I saw your message .. I acknowledge your basic human worth.” It takes five seconds and it can truly make a difference in a person’s life!! Why not just give that little bit!?

    • FB ME

      I agree. Just send a note saying you’re busy and will respond soon or just a smiley face or something. Personally I only have friends on FB that are real friends. Although a guy I know will often ignore messages that are just rude not to respond to even in the shortest way…. We are friends and it is just how he is. He’s been that way for 10yrs now. I still take it personal though even though I know he is not a big email guy. Its a guy thing sometimes. If its not super important they just leave it until you see them and they say, “Oh, I got your email and blah blah blah about what you said”… Makes me crazy!
      I like the READ feature since it allows me to know he did read it.

      But get this. He has a fan page and somehow he can make it go to unread a few minutes after he has read it!…

      Another option is to set Notifications to send you an email to your yahoo or gmail account and dwhen you get a FB messge you can read it on your Yahoo without having to go on Facebook to read it. Just don’t click the red notification on the top right corner click off of Facebook and wait 5 to 30 minutes and the Notification with the entire email will go to your inbox on yahoo…. They they think you didn’t read it yet. hence avoiding having to write back saying your busy..

  • modestmouse

    Quwestion: whaaaat if someone were to awake to find themself completely caught up in being acccidentally obsessive. Does fb messenger notify a person that their shared conversation has been viewed rather frequently?

  • Curious

    What scenarios can you think of for not wanting a “friend” to be sure that you read their message? How does that compare to your version of integrity?