Read receipts are the worst, but Facebook didn't get the memo


Some of you may have noticed that Facebook is trailing a new "read receipt" feature for events, letting you see which of your invitees have looked at the invitation. Some of you might also be asking the same question that I am: why?

The pilot scheme is only affecting a select number of users right now, meaning there's a chance it may never roll out to the masses - but why anyone would want this feature is beyond me.

All it does is give cause for never opening another event invitation in fear that I might not be able to conjure a believable 'get out' excuse fast enough. Less than 10 minutes and it might pass the test, but over an hour? Yeah, good luck convincing them with that one, pal.

Let's face it: read receipts do more harm than good, especially when it comes to messaging. I'm not saying we should all go back to mailing letters, but modern communications are fast enough. Read receipts enforce absolute immediacy, turning the simple activity of messaging (and now events) into a psychological minefield.

"He read it an hour ago - why hasn't he responded yet?"
"Why did she say she was asleep when I CLEARLY saw she read my message at 2:55"
"I swear I just saw the typing bubble but now it's gone. Screw you, Gary, get out of my head"

Just stop it

It works both ways. Sometimes I'll read a Facebook message but won't respond until later in the day, and the space between these two moments is filled with flickers of guilt. I can feel the person silently analysing me from afar because I know I'd be doing the same.

When you break it down, it's a power thing. Letting people see when you've read their messages means you have the upper hand in the exchange. Sure, they probably didn't reply for 10 minutes because they were feeding the cat, but you? You read that message and then just walked away, and now you're dangling the hard truth right in front of their face. You utter, utter bastard.

So I'm asking Facebook to kill this idea before it properly gets out of the gate, and for the rest of you I'm making a heartfelt plea: let's all turn off read receipts wherever possible and live in blissful ignorance, never having to confront the hard truth that sometimes people just don't care about us that much.

Hugh Langley

Hugh Langley is the ex-News Editor of TechRadar. He had written for many magazines and websites including Business Insider, The Telegraph, IGN, Gizmodo, Entrepreneur Magazine, WIRED (UK), TrustedReviews, Business Insider Australia, Business Insider India, Business Insider Singapore, Wareable, The Ambient and more.

Hugh is now a correspondent at Business Insider covering Google and Alphabet, and has the unfortunate distinction of accidentally linking the TechRadar homepage to a rival publication.