WhatsApp is considered a leader among social messaging apps with billions of users from all over the world downloading the app on their mobile phones.

However, it is not without its controversies, as it also has some annoying features. Consider this scenario:

“I saw her/him (meaning a contact) last at 5 pm in the evening. I had sent a message to her at about 4.45 pm but he/she did not reply”. The person then concludes that their friend or contact is trying to ignore them and this creates friction in the relationship. This is what the ‘last seen at’ functionality of the application does to millions of users, who keep a close eye on their friends’ activities and their online status.

The Functionalities

The WhatsApp application has many useful features, including the time stamps provided by the ‘online’ and ‘last seen at’, which tell you whether the contact is online or not and the time they were last seen on the app. The term ‘online’ means that the contact has opened WhatsApp and is on the Internet. However, this does not necessarily mean that the person has read your message. The term ‘last seen at’ shows when the contact left WhatsApp and is similar to telling you when the person went offline.

Close Monitoring

The controversy over the ‘last seen at’ feature arrives as many users feel it invades their privacy. They feel that their movements are being monitored at every moment. In fact, there have many stories circulating regarding almost world war like situations being created among friends due to this feature. This is because it does not allow the contact to claim that he has not received the message. It also does not allow him the liberty of ignoring a message or offer any excuses for not responding, thereby sparking controversies in relationships.

The Good

Many users find the feature of the ‘last seen at’ very functional, as they find it easy to keep track of their friends and know whether they are online or not. They are able to know whether their friends are up and about or still sleeping and so on.

The Bad

The negative aspect of this feature is that you can immediately know or suspect that someone is trying to lie about not having read your message, when the truth could be that they do not want to respond to it. It kills the mood of the person trying to contact someone, as he/she feels rejected. It also has the potential to harm relationships, though the other party could have been entirely innocent. The contact might have been online on WhatsApp and could have been away from his phone, doing some other errands in the house or working in another room or a number of other possibilities. Yet, the feature leads to suspicion and accusations, sparking controversies among users. Many users have experienced unpleasant arguments with friends due to this functionality. Hence, many users also feel that this functionality must be disabled from the application.

Disabling the Feature

However, the good news is that in the iOS version of WhatsApp, you are offered advanced settings whereby you can disable the last seen feature from the chat screen. However, this is not available for Android. Luckily, you can hide the feature if you wish and continue to be online and check your messages and so on, without letting the world know that you are. This can be done by installing the Not Last Seen App and using the feature Block Last Seen. With the help of this hide last seen feature, you can now have private conversations with any contact, without the rest of your contacts knowing you are available or online and invading your privacy. In short, now you can lie without being caught.

Technology WhatsApp “Last Seen At” Feature Controversies