Everything about SEEN feature in Messaging Apps!

You know that feeling of pressure when an annoying friend sends you a text message that you decide to ignore but then you accidentally tap on the message notification or that feeling of rejection when you finally find the courage to ask that girl you like on a date. So what she replies with well nothing?

How does that even work and I don’t mean your personal life I mean this how does it know?

So, the little SEEN mark is something known as a read receipt and we’re gonna take a look at how read receipts actually work on modern messaging apps since long before apps like Whats App, Facebook Messenger or iMessage.

Even existed postal services have been using something called return receipts to notify senders that their letters or packages were successfully delivered with the development and expansion of the internet for many emails provided a much more convenient way of sending letters so programmers quickly came up with similar delivery verification systems like delivery status notifications and messaged is position notifications.

While Delivery Status Notification simply informed the sender whether the message has arrived or not ambiance allow the sender to actually find out if the message was opened or discarded with modern-day messaging apps. The process of sending and receiving messages has become quicker than ever. This can also be said for message status notifications which in this context are commonly referred to as read receipts to understand.

How SEEN work?

We first need to understand that when you’re chatting with someone on a social media app, communication is not taking place through a direct connection but rather through a server. Of course different apps are designed and coded differently but the basic principle here is pretty much the same. It’s also important to know that these apps don’t send information only when you hit the send button or make a change to your profile. In fact during a internet connection, they can send out certain information as soon as they’re opened and even while they’re running in the background and this is actually why read receipts are possible.

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When you type a message in an app and hit send. As we already establish the message is first directed to a server, when the server receives that message it can immediately see your ID and send you a receipt which indicates that your message has reached it once the server has your message. It will direct it to the ID of the attendant when the message actually arrives at the recipients device the app will register it and report back to the server which then sends you a delivery confirmation.

It’s also important to note that delivery is typically completed as soon as the recipients app is connected to the server and finally when the recipient opens the message within the apps user interface, the app signals that to the server after which it doesn’t take long before you’re notified that the message has been seen. The app can also signal other activities that take place within the interface such as the act of typing and this type of information is also commonly sent to the recipient through the server.

What more about SEEN?

Now to be completely honest with you while writing the script for this article I thought that explaining how read receipts work would be the more complicated part. But then I started researching about how people actually feel about them and quickly realized I was wrong as is the case with a number of features on modern social media platforms.

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Read receipts are seen by many as something that walks a thin line between convenience and intrusiveness on one hand having the tool that lets you know that your message was seen by whoever. It can be pretty useful but on the other read receipts can also cause privacy concerns and a rather unique kind of social pressure one that practically implies that you have to be available to someone the moment they summon you because if you don’t immediately reply to the message you opened or you don’t reply to it at all.

The person sending it might think negatively of you which sometimes may even have an impact on certain segments of your life. Now some apps like Whats App or Viber give users the option to choose whether they want read receipts to be enabled or disabled and disabling them isn’t always an easy decision because there’s usually a catch when you open a message. Sure people won’t be notified about it but neither will you be notified when they open yours.

There are also apps that feature read receipts that can’t be disabled through the user interface. One example is Messenger, which is yet to include an opt-out option. This has led many people to use browser extensions and even external apps that prevent read receipts from going.

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How SEEN is affecting Social Life? 

Though studies have shown that the amount of comfort people feel about read receipts is highly influenced by the type of social tie. They have with the people they’re communicating with, in other words, people generally tend to have no problem with read receipts when communication is taking place between them and someone with whom they have a strong social tie such as a loved one or a close friend. Of course the amount of comfort also depends on the role of the individual in the exchange.

This is something that especially comes into play when weak social ties are in question. While people usually like to get a confirmation that their message has been seen by the recipient with whom they have a week social tie. They often don’t feel the same when it’s the other way around.

When it comes to technology, people generally don’t feel comfortable with things they have no or very little influence. Over creating a balance between convenience and privacy is probably one of the biggest challenges of this generation and nobody’s saying that it’s an easy task but a very good first step is to always be transparent. Let people know exactly what’s going on in plain language and give them control. How information about them is being used should always be up to them.

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