Turn on message read receipts, you cowards

One of the biggest benefits of modern messaging systems is the ability to send more than just basic text chats back and forth. On top of high-resolution media, audio clips, huge groups, reactions and more, one of the biggest revelations has been delivery and read receipts for messages. Press send, and you immediately know whether the message was actually delivered at the other person's device. Watch for a bit longer, and you know that they've actually seen the message.

But message read receipts have turned into a point of contention for some. Most chat apps let you turn off read receipts, and some people care enough to do so. I suppose I understand why you may want to turn off read receipts, to preserve some semblance of "privacy" perhaps, but I also know it's a rather selfish and annoying trend that frankly just makes you seem rude in exchange for no actual benefit.

I really want you to turn back on your read receipts, for everyone's sake.

Not every message needs a reply or acknowledgement. Often all I need is to know you saw it.

Not every message needs a reply or acknowledgement. When I send a message letting you know I'm on my way and I'm going to be 10 minutes late, I don't need a "K" or "thanks for letting me know" or emoji response — I just need to know that you saw the message. You can convey a lot by just reading a message and not replying. You're of course confirming that you saw it, which is helpful, but at the same time letting them know that a reply will likely be coming later. A read receipt being sent isn't an obligation of a reply or some sort of contract — to the contrary, it's really buying you more time to send an actual reply with substance rather than one quick message to let them know you saw it.

Read receipts also add an extra element of personality to an otherwise emotionless conversation medium. It's no different than what emoji, stickers and media bring to a text chat — it's another little reminder that you're talking to a person and not an app. When you're talking to someone in person, there are ways to acknowledge you're listening without saying something — read receipts attempt to provide the same function over a text chat.

Turning off read receipts just makes you seem rude, with no actual benefit in return.

Wanting read receipts doesn't mean you're snooping or anything nefarious is going on. You are, after all, choosing to have a text conversation with someone in the first place. If you can't handle the social implications of someone knowing that you saw their message, maybe you should reconsider whether this conversation should be happening at all. And for as much anxiety as seeing a read receipt and not receiving a reply can be, you're putting yourself through that sort of anxiety for every message you send instead. Nobody wins.

Thankfully, most apps also make the choice to turn off read reciepts a unilateral setting, meaning you stop receiving read receipts from others as well. Sometimes that can be enough to make people second-guess their decision. But if it isn't, and you're still hiding behind some sort of thin veil of privacy you think you're gaining by turning off read receipts, I urge you to reconsider — you're just annoying everyone, and we'd all appreciate if you turned your read receipts back on.

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • Yes....everyone turn this on....I want to see you type.........typing.......typing.....................typing..........but never send a message. LOL
  • My main gripe with read receipts is that you then automatically confirm to spammers that the address is valid and read.. So no auto read receipts for me, thanks. If someone I know requests one, I will send one.
  • How many spam texts do you get?
  • I had to delete my original invite only Gmail account from the early days because of spam. It adds up.
  • That's email read receipts - which aren't quite the same
  • Email spam is a completely different beast
  • True.
    I use it on my current account though and love it.
  • However, text spam is not.
  • Tons. At least significantly more than real texts from real people.
  • I have never heard of messaging app spammers sending out mass texts and looking for read receipts as a way to ID potential targets. Mass spam messages are sent by automated computers, looking for replies; that's all they care about.
  • well if you've never heard of it, then I'm sure it's not even a possibility.... whatever. I'm guessing a targeted exploit would never use a read receipt to know if they have a live target or not, just no use in that information?
  • "automated computers, looking for a reply". What exactly do you think a read receipt is??? It's a reply, validating the account. Yea, your opinion is just like ******** - everyone has them.
  • When a spammer sends out messages, it already is operating under the assumption that the number is "good" and valid. A read receipt is not any indication that you're a likely target — an actual reply is.
  • That is what is commonly referred to as a distinction without a difference.
  • You've never heard of it, so therefore it doesn't happen. Riiiiiiiiight.
  • Yes, turn that read receipt on if one is not a coward. I'd rather block you number in the App than refuse to acknowledge the receipt of your massage. I'll not reply if I don't feel like it.No obligation.
  • 😂 bruh, no. hahahaha
  • I have no obligation to let people know I've read their message. If I feel a reply is warranted, I'll reply.
  • Exactly what Mr. Segundus said.
  • It is neither selfish nor rude. Knock it off. You are the one being selfish thinking someone should turn on read receipts just so you can be comfortable.
  • Yup. This. And then calling us cowards for disagreeing. How would he feel if I said "Don't demand that I turn on read receipts, you jerk!"
  • I believe the label of "coward" is much worse than "jerk".
    I'll be a jerk all day, but don't you call me no coward!
  • I leave them on, but only because the notifaction shade lets me decide if I want you to know that I've seen your message...if they change that, I'll turn them off.
  • This is my point exactly. You can have it both ways!
  • Yup. You can always read (most of) the message in the notification shade/lock screen before opening the app to "read" it officially.
  • Nah, I don't want the other end to be expecting a reply at the moment I read the message.
  • Spoiler: they're already expecting a reply the moment they send the message.
  • Understand your point, but most don't get angry if they reply does not come instantly if they can't see that you have read it. They will however expect a instant reply if they know you have "read" it and will even fret about it. Working in retail sales, it's a daily battle with my team about it. "I know they read it, why aren't they responding?" Then it's even worse on the customers side. Logical conclusions seems to fall out a window when it comes to messaging and expectations.
  • And you know this, how??
  • Wouldn't it be funny if the companies removed this setting and people couldn't turn it off? Would the world end? LOL It's like using a smartphone without any data. People should go back to telegrams if they can't cope.
  • 1st world problems. Boo hoo, come on man. 
  • Millennial problems. Waaaaaaaaa! 😂
  • So just because you consider this a first world problem means we can not discuss it ? Get a life.
  • I don't like being told what to do with my personal phone. I'll manage my apps and life the way I want, thanks.
  • I don't even see this as an option in my messages app. Guess you'll just have to learn to live with the unknown. Or not. Whatever.
  • Definitely depends on the app. Some don't do it still.
  • Anyone who has ever been in a relationship appreciates being to turn off the read receipt. Nothing is more annoying then get 3 more text saying "I know you're ignoring me".
  • Yeah, not everyone is cool about texting. Those who are cool about it don't complain about not having message read receipts so there is very little to gain by turning it on.
  • lol, you guys get 1 tiny feature of iMessage and you are too scared or stupid to use it.
    spam, really? android users are afraid of read receipts but not viruses and malware that is nearly the core of the OS... lol
  • What are you talking about? Read receipts started with BlackBerry on BBM and were on WhatsApp way before iMessage was even a thing. Smh.. how uninformed are you in that Apple bubble of ignorance? You sure just embarrassed yourself big time dude.
  • iMessage didn't invent the read receipt.
  • There's always that one asinine comment
  • If we wanted a phone designed for seniors we'd buy one.
  • More than the read receipt, the in app sounds while sending and receiving messages annoy me more. Any way to disable that in imessage, other than switching to silent mode? I know whatsapp has that option. About spam messages - I had deleted the ones I received yesterday at 7 A.M. this morning. I'ts 12.12 P.M. right now, and I already have 9 spam messages in my inbox. I did not want them to be in my inbox. I do not wish them to know that I've received and accidentally read them. There should be an option to send read receipts to only those who are present in your contacts.
  • And if "your carrier currently does not support this feature"? Not even an option.
  • It's nothing to do with carriers. The picture in the article from WhatsApp settings. None of these apps features are controlled by carriers.
  • That is a direct quote from my phone screen when I try to look for the option. I guess stock Messages on Pixel 3XL doesn't support it? The help says some features are "only available for some phones and service providers". It still isn't an option.
  • Not gonna happen. My phone, my rules. If you don't like it, stop messaging me. I will probably survive, and so will you.
  • Kinda my point. If this is that big of a point of contention in your messages, you probably shouldn't be talking to that person in the first place.
  • You never know when a person can become THAT person. Or a new boss turns out to be THAT boss. Once you have had that happen, you never turn read receipts on again. Ever. And messaging is not talking. If you want to talk, call. It. Is. A. Phone.
  • Not only that- he called you (and the rest of us!) a coward too! 😜
  • "Demanding read receipts seems rude, with no actual benefit." There. It's fixed.
  • Exactly. I think that asking that I turn on read receipts for everyones sake is kind of silly. First it's implying that everyone wants them. I neither want them nor do I want to send them. In fact it's quite presumptuous of Andrew to assume that because he wants something that he represents "everyone" He represents one side of the population. Second, I have no idea to what social implication he is referring. My social implication is that I send a message and when the recipient is ready then that recipient can chose to reply, acknowledge receipt or do nothing. My sending a message does not place a responsibility on the recipient to either actively or passively acknowledge receipt. That would be quite self-centered of me to assume that my merely doing something obligates another person. That said I would never presume to speak for everyone and tell the world to do it my way.
  • You are so humourless and boring.
  • Awesome! Nice job! 🤣🤣🤣
  • Nobody owes you a response. Get over yourself.
  • But that's part of my point! Read receipts remove the need/demand for a response to every message. Sometimes just reading the message is enough. I'm specifically advocating for read receipts so you don't have to respond.
  • So you're saying that for years you have been demanding a response to every message? No, you got on just fine. And you'll be just fine without them into the future.
  • Turning on read receipts is a response. Potentially one I didn't intend. If your text requires a response, you'll get one. (Maybe)
  • Maybe I don't want you to know that I read the message. That make me, and everyone else who doesn't agree with you cowards?
  • Apparently, to Andrew anyway.
  • You're humourless too. What's your reason for being a robot when it comes to IM?
  • Selfish... Yeah.... I'm selfish because I don't do what you tell me to do in some dribble article. Get a clue
  • No sir. You're a coward. 🙄
  • I don't think it's necessarily rude to turn off read receipts but it seems dumb to me. If the person you are chatting with is going to be offended if they see you read the message but don't immediately respond then that points to an issue with your relationship and turning off read receipts is not going to fix whatever underlying issues you have. Also, as another poster pointed out, you can actually have it both ways by using the notification shade to read the message and not open the app if you don't want someone to see you read the message.
  • By understanding that people want privacy and not all messages need a response means this article was pointless. It's privacy and sometimes the recipient does not want to know they have read it less the sender might be pushy. They may require time to give a proper response if any.
  • Privacy from someone you're having a private conversation with? I don't get it. If you don't want them to know you read the private message ... don't open the app and read the message.
  • Here is my issue, and it's why I never enable read receipts. Unlike office people, my job does not allow me to use my cellphone during my shift. Cannot be used. Cannot be out and available. Occasionally after heading to restroom I'll reach into my pocket and read a text if I got one. When read receipts were enabled I had people ******** that I read it but took forever to respond. I couldn't respond, I only had time to read it quickly. I explained I was at work but they never got past the whole "but it says you read it!" Part. Yeah. So I disabled read receipts. That way, it finally sank into their heads that I won't respond to anything until my work day is done. Once they see a read report, unlike you, they expect me to respond in short order.
  • You certainly cannot tell someone how to operate their phone. There are an infinite number of reasons why someone can open the app and not respond right away. The fact you are saying that a notification needs a response right away opens up a whole a different topic of why that's an issue.
  • Thank you so much, Andrew, for having the balls to write this opinion fully knowing all the crap you were going to get, and totally not caring about what any of us think or say about you because, in the end, we're all but complete strangers and nobody. Welcome to Southern California!!! Only a few days, and you're blending right in. Ha!
  • This was not a courageous act, on Andrew's part. It's his job to get folks to read articles. By using the term "coward", he got folks to read and respond. Andrew gets paid.
  • Yes, totally! Brilliant!
  • What about just fun chatting, nothing serious? Why is everyone here assuming this is about serious business talk or something?
  • Never paid attention to it. You can't have the kind of relationships I have and be insecure, lol. One girl sometimes doesn't respond to messages for days, but I'm used to it. She's busy and some times doesn't even have her phone on her, but as long as we get to hang out now and then and she sends me goodnights, I'm cool.
  • You want to talk to someone, use the PHONE as a PHONE and CALL them, you coward. If you NEED to know if someone reads your texts, YOU are the reason they don't want you to know if they have read them. Messaging is inherently not a real-time medium.
  • Spot on comment
  • I'm definitely pro phone call in general. But we both know there are lots of situations in which messaging is a better, or the only, way to communicate with someone. Not to mention multiple people at once.
  • Based on all of your responses, I guess only your opinion matters and everyone else is wrong, right?
  • Thanks, Captain Obvious! :-P
    Your logic and reason have no place in a forum article, designed to get folks to click on it, read it and respond.
  • Nah, many people can't be bothered for the superfluous crap that a phone call entails. Also, many people find receiving a call very intrusive.
  • I know we're driving for the clicks but the tone of this article is childish and entitled. You need to treat your readers better than calling them cowards while creating a strawman argument to take down. Does your need to see read receipts mean that you have deep seeded trust issues, high levels of phone addiction, or terrible patience? Maybe, but I'll assume the best in you and say that it is a convenience feature that assists your conversational workflow.
  • Very well said.
  • Likely none of the above. Just a slow news day, perhaps.
  • It really is social cowardice to turn off read receipts. This article speaks truly.
  • Corrections: It's not a semblance of "privacy", it's actual privacy. It's not selfish and annoying, it's selfish and annoying when people get offended when you don't write back right away, even though you've "seen" their message. It's certainly not selfish and annoying if you have mental issues and just want to deal with things later or it adds stress, or to the mentally ill or socially awkward folks who see "seen" all the time but never get a response. I really feel bad for them. It doesn't make people seem rude at all, that's just in someone's own head if they think that. You don't "need" to know if someone has seen a text. Lots of times people put down their phone, texts get "seen" because the app is open but not the person, and then they pick up their locked phone an hour later and do something else. They might never notice the text if it's a friend and you send more and they just don't notice it.
  • "You don't "need" to know if someone has seen a text." This is the only correct response to this article.
  • So what's the point in sending a text then?
  • It seems most of the people replying here don't understand that just because you have read receipts doesn't mean you are required to respond. Most people realize that not all messages require an immediate response and give people the benefit of the doubt that they are busy or not able to respond for whatever reason. If someone doesn't respect that then it's their personal problem or a problem with the relationship and in either case turning off receipts is not going to solve that.
  • Just like it's nobody's business if someone has "seen" their text, it's nobody's business why someone doesn't want to use read receipts. It should be more than enough that half the people here (and a full 100% of the comments on the facebook page) don't *want* to use them. You really think an whingy article calling people cowards was really intended to convince anyone to change their minds?
  • "Most people realize that not all messages require an immediate response and give people the benefit of the doubt that they are busy or not able to respond for whatever reason."
    OK so how do I turn on read receipts for those reasonable people, but turn them off for the other idiots that think I have nothing better to do than respond, the instant I have read their texts?
  • You just turn it off and don't worry about it.
  • Sorry, but you don’t need to know when I read your message. Most messages I get are questions. Sending read receipts creates an expectation that I’ll answer within seconds. That’s rarely feasible, and I’ll reply if I need to and when I’m in a position to answer completely and give it proper attention. Plus, others who message me, I want nothing to do with them.
  • I'm shocked he's annoyed this much to write a full article on this.
  • He's not annoyed. It's his job to get folks to click. One way to do that is to be "provocative" or mildly offensive.
  • My biggest reason for no read receipts is that with Samsung stock messaging (which i need to use to retain full functionality with my Gear S3 Sam watch) I'll randomly get a 'message read' notification when mms'ing a large (10-16 people) chat thread. We use mass mms threads to communicate to our foremen in the field. I say randomly because some of the recipients are on discount providers (Cricket, Boost, and the like) and will/will not support the service. On one such day, i received over 100 notifications of responses and 'message received' within an hour. The regular notifications are a bit much, but when you receive almost a dozen 'message received' notifications after every simple response, it becomes infuriating and disruptive, instead of informative and discrete. My watch burned through twice as much battery that day. Pass for now, thanks.
  • Does anyone really give a crap? This is all meaningless. I don't care if you know when I read a message... I may or may not respond depending on what the message is, what the tone of the message is or whether or not I give two s**ts to whom is sending me the message. I guess the only reason to care is to know that someone actually read it, and to say later that they got the message and chose not to respond. This is only important if it is an important situation that needs a response. Otherwise who really gives a s**t...
  • If you care so little, why did you click?
  • "I also know it's a rather selfish and annoying trend that frankly just makes you seem rude in exchange for no actual benefit." No it doesn't. How did you ever manage when messaging was only SMS with no read receipts? This sounds like a *you* problem. "I really want you to turn back on your read receipts, for everyone's sake." No, you mean for *your* sake. This is about you, not anyone else. The sense of entitlement is mind boggling.
  • Never, ever turning that on
  • The biggest reason to NOT turn on read receipts is for the purpose of potential deception. All other reasons are simply excuses to cover for the main reason. "Sorry dude, I'm just reading this. I hope you were able to find a way home in the rain."
    "Oh hey.... Good morning. Just seeing this text. I would have loved to hang out with you last night. I was knocked out." All are lies because we all know that in today's world, 99% people with mobile devices get and read messages within the first hour of receiving them.
  • So if you know 99% read them within the hour, why do you need electronic validation? Because you want to hold them accountable to your whims?
  • Turn it ON instead. Back in the old days of texting we didn't have this option and we all lived fine without read receipts. I think this does the contrary, people see you read their text and instead get offended when you don't answer right away. I disagree with this article but who everyone can do what they want, that's why it's an OPTION.
  • Excuse me Andrew, but I don't like your tone. Turning off read reciepts has nothing to do with me being a coward. My phone, my life, my choices.
  • I just think the "cowards" part was to increase attention to the article and a bit tongue-in-cheek. I mean he didn't call us lily--livered, yellow-bellied sap suckers, afterall. ☺
  • Nope. You're a coward. I'm a coward. Everyone who agrees with us is a coward. Because Andrew said so.
  • People get offended so easily… Get over it. Whether he meant "coward" or not, who cares? Why do you care about the "opinion of you" of a complete stranger who is no one in your life? It was totally a tongue-in-cheek, but if it wasn't, who the f*** cares?
  • Agreed. I really don't care about his opinion to be honest with you. I just thought the title of his article was a bit out of line, but you are ultimately correct.
  • What a ridiculously misinformed and whiney wall of drivel. If you're communicating by an asynchronous method and require acknowledgement of receipt, you're already doing it wrong. "...we'd all appreciate..." oh I'm glad you're speaking for literally every single person I've ever texted in my life, for at least the past 15 years that never once needed acknowledgement whether or not I read their text unless they specifically requested a response or it was a situation that warranted an immediate response. If you think your message is so important that you have to know it's received, then you use synchronous communication, AKA *call* people, ya know, with your *phone.* Get real, dude.
  • Too much effort to call. Small talk, enthusiastic tone of voice. **** that.
  • Hey bro, what's her name? It happens to us all. It's actually better to not know she's read it and doesn't wanna reply.
  • Spot on..... Hilarious!
  • There are times when I read a message, but don't have time to respond quickly. This would give the false impression that I am ignoring someone and people get up in their feelings way too quickly nowadays.
  • Somebody in thier feelings... Or feeling some type of way.... Either way cowboy up
  • Quite opinionated, there aren't we, Andrew? And I resent you calling me a coward.
  • I prefer not to let people know I am ignoring them. If they see a message as 'read', then they might think I will reply and wonder why I didn't. Sometimes I prefer to think about a reply, or simply don't want to message someone at that time. I get the point that it can be good for certain situations, but for others I'd rather keep them wondering.
  • Oh aren't you the tease! We all want to know if we're worthy of you!
  • If it actually existed in Android Messages I'd use it.
  • The author is either stirring the pot or is showcasing his issue with control, or both. I'm thinking both.
  • The problem is not the people turning on or off the setting, it's actually the person on the other end freaking out about not getting an immediate response. If you're that psychologically f***ed up that you can't cope with someone not answering right away after seeing they read your message, natural selection should've taken care of you and passing on those genes. If you want to have nutjobs, cray people in your life, to each its own. These are probably the same people that if the teacher grades them with red ink, they get traumatized. Just spay and neuter them, please!
  • This issue does not involve purely personal relationships. Some of these neurotic folks are coworkers, customers or worse yet, bosses. It's a brave, new world... NOT!
  • I'll do whatever like! Jog on.
  • Nah, you can't.
  • First thing I turn off on every phone. Makes me a "coward" then I happily wear the label. I'm under zero obligation to let you know I've read your text. If it's pressing, I'll get back to you as soon as I can, but 99.9 percent of the texts/iMessages I've received did not fall into the "pressing" category.
  • What a pathetic piece of millennial tripe. Here, have a tissue.
  • OP comes off way too rude. Nope, the messages WILL stay "unread".