'Invisible' Setting on Yahoo Messenger

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The Yahoo instant messaging network monitors the connection of all users and shows the online or offline status of each for everyone to see. Like most instant messaging (IM) systems, Yahoo Messenger also gives users an option to either show or hide their IM connection status from others. With this feature, a person can appear invisible (offline) on the IM network even while actually connected and using Yahoo Messenger.

Why Go Invisible on Yahoo Messenger

Some users go invisible on Messenger to avoid unsolicited messages from spammers or particularly annoying individuals on their contact list. Some may be busy chatting with other users or concentrating on another priority task and want to avoid interruptions. Users may be planning to sign on only briefly and not looking to start conversations.

How to Go Invisible on Yahoo Messenger

Yahoo provides three options for going invisible on its IM network:

  • The Sign in as Invisible option can be selected during initial log-on.
  • A user can later go invisible by changing their status to Invisible to Everyone.
  • It's also possible to appear invisible only to certain other users. To set invisibility per user, individually click on each user's profile and change Stealth Settings to either Appear Offline or Appear Permanently Offline.

How to Detect Invisible Users on Yahoo Messenger

Many Web sites and mobile apps have appeared over the years that claim to help find users on Yahoo Messenger who are currently online but have set their IM status to invisible. Example sites include detectinvisible.com, imvisible.info, and msgspy.com. These sites probe Yahoo's IM network attempting to bypass its filters and reach an online user regardless of their settings. Unauthorized third-party software applications a person can install on their client for this same purpose work similarly. Depending on what version of Messenger users are running, these systems may or may not work.

The other method for detecting invisible users involves logging into Yahoo IM and attempting to contact them via voice chat or conferencing. These connection updates can sometimes generate a status message that allows their status to be determined indirectly. This method was more commonly used with older versions of Yahoo Messenger which may have been less effective in hiding revealing information.

These methods are sometimes called Yahoo invisible hacks as they attempt to defeat the privacy options of Messenger users. Note these are not computer and network hacks in the traditional sense: They do not give access to another user's device or data, nor do they damage devices or destroy any data. They also do not change the user's Yahoo IM settings.

To protect against Yahoo Messenger invisible hacks, users should ensure their IM clients are upgraded to current versions and also have standard security precautions enabled on their devices.