In a recent casual conversation with a teenager, I found out that the “Active Now” message emblazoned on top of Facebook Messenger is wreaking havoc.

If your Facebook Messenger headline shows that you are active now, it can spur a deluge of messages from your online friends and send you down a rabbit hole that you didn’t anticipate… making you lose time and focus. The more insidious element, though, is when the system will let others know when you last were online…. as in 4 hours ago (e.g. in the middle of the night) or 2 minutes ago.

active now minutes ago facebook messenger

It means that your digital presence online is being signalled to everyone. You are no longer in charge. Literally, your time is being usurped.

Facebook Messenger fade?

In the case of the teenager above, for her and her friends, there is a mounting concern about the way they get sucked out of the real world friendships into the digital world. The solution was to remove the Facebook app and Facebook Messenger app from the iPhone altogether. The temptation to slip on to Facebook thus slips away… In its place, apps like Snapchat offer a much more discreet service: messages that are designed to disappear, show no indication of who is “active now” and you just send and receive on your own time.

In one’s everyday social life, the “active now” announcement is just plain invasive. Who wants all your friends to know when you were last on Facebook? Is it about checking when they went to sleep? Did they see your message? …

Implications for brands – Are you too active now?

In business, cyber surveillance is already a latent issue. The implications of the “active now” message could be ruinous for an employee if it were found out that he/she was on Facebook in the middle of an important meeting. [tweetthis]Brand managers and communications teams need to be keeping a pulse on the behaviors and usages[/tweetthis] in order better to craft their messaging and engage their community (internally and externally)… It is indeed a tricky and changing world out there!

Anyone else have the same concerns? Your thoughts and reactions?

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