My Instagram profile probably reveals more personal details about me than any other social networking site. As a result, I started sneaking in after I realized how many people were following me that I didn't actually know.
Blocking your privacy on Instagram can be as easy as setting your profile to "private". But you can get a lot more detailed, and there are a number of other safeguards you can put in place. You can keep your account public, but protect it a little better or even add more stringent safeguards than simply flipping the private profile switch.
If you really want to protect your account, you can do the following.
Make your account private
Setting your account to private is the easiest thing you can do to lock your profile. This means that no one will be able to see your photos or stories in the future unless you approve them.
Once your account is private, new people visiting your profile will only see your name and profile picture. From there, they can ask you to follow you, and you must confirm your request before they can see your photos or stories.
To make your account private:
- Go to Instagram's Settings menu. It is hidden on your profile page behind the hamburger button in the upper right corner. This opens a side menu with several options. You can access your settings from the gear at the bottom.
- From there, go to "Privacy"> "Privacy" and activate the setting "Private account".
One important limitation: anyone who already follows you when you change your account to private will continue to follow you. That said, if you want to deny someone access, you need to remove them from your followers list.
To remove someone who follows you:
- Go to your profile and tap on the number of your followers
- Scroll through your list and tap the large "Remove" button next to the name of everyone you want to remove
Protect your stories
With Instagram, you can restrict who sees your stories (the scroll that disappears after 24 hours) and prevent other people from sharing them.
To hide your story from certain people:
- Go to "Settings"> "Privacy"> "Story"
- Select "Hide story before". A list of your followers will open. Tap the circle next to their name to block access.
You can also prevent people from sharing your story:
- Go to the same page ("Settings"> "Privacy"> "Story"). Scroll down to where there is a section labeled "Approval".
- You'll see an option labeled "Allow Approval." If you deactivate this option, other people cannot share your stories with others.
- You can also turn off Allow Stories to Be Reshared to prevent people from adding your posts to their stories.
- Uncheck "Share your story on Facebook" to prevent your stories from being shared on Facebook. This means that they only post on Instagram.
Finally, you can use Instagram's Close Friends feature to limit the reach of your stories to specific people.
- To determine who belongs to this group of people, go to "Settings"> "Privacy"> "Story".
- Under Close friends, tap and add people. People are not notified when they are added to (or removed from) this group.
Prevent people from seeing your feed
When it comes to protecting the photos and videos published in your feed, it's more of an all-or-nothing scenario than stories.
If you don't want to be private, you can still block individual users:
- To block someone, you need to go to their account first. On your profile page, tap the three-dot menu in the upper right corner.
- Click on "Block"
Note: You can also restrict people using this menu. If you restrict them, they will still be able to see your content, but their comments will only be visible to you and they will not be able to see when you are online.
Make yourself less visible
There are a few things you can do to find yourself a little harder (and less information about yourself).
First, you can stop sending your contacts to Instagram. You may have given Instagram access to your contacts to find your friends when they signed in. However, this means that Instagram knows who is in your phone book. To turn it off:
- Go to Settings> Account> Sync Contacts.
- Deactivate "Connect contacts".
You can also prevent Instagram from suggesting your account to others. This happens when someone follows a new account: Instagram then shows accounts that they think are “similar” and into which you could be divided. You cannot change this with your mobile app. How to turn it off:
- Log in to the Instagram website and go to your profile
- Select the "Edit Profile" button
- Disable the very last option "Similar account suggestions".
Finally, you should check whether your Instagram posts are shown in a Google search. By default, Instagram does not allow Google to find your photos. However, if you've ever signed in to a third-party web viewer (and possibly in the years before Instagram was available on the web), the website may search your profile and publish it for everyone to see.
If one or more of your posts appear in your search, the first step to remove it is to block third-party apps from accessing your Instagram account. You can do this in the mobile app:
- Go to Settings> Security> Apps & Websites> Active.
- Remove any apps that you no longer use
Protect what people see about you
You can drill down further by restricting what others can see in your account.
One important thing you can do is turn off your activity status so people can't see when you're online. (Note that if you turn this off, you won't be able to see when other people are online.)
- Go to Settings> Privacy> Activity Status.
- Uncheck "Show activity status".
You may also want to review tagged photos before they appear on your profile. If you have a public account, checking every day can prevent spammers from filling out your profile. And if you have a private account, this can keep your friends from sticking an unflattering picture into your profile. In order to do this:
- Go to "Settings"> "Privacy"> "Tags"
- Check "Approve tags manually".
Stop saving your posts and stories
You may not want to save the photos and videos you post on Instagram, especially not your missing stories. There are a few things you can do to stop this.
To prevent your stories from being saved:
- Go to "Settings"> "Privacy"> "Story"
- Turn off two settings. The first is "Save to Camera Roll" (on iOS) or "Save to Gallery" (on Android), which saves your stories on your phone. The second option is "Save to archive". If you deactivate this option, Instagram will no longer be attached to your stories so that you can view them later after they have disappeared.
If you want to keep your feed posts on Instagram too:
- Go to "Settings"> "Account"> "Original contributions".
- Deselect all three options (save original posts, save posted photos, and save posted videos).
This prevents the posts from being saved locally on your phone, but it also means that your only copy is on Instagram.
Get rid of personalized ads
Instagram ads are based on websites you visit and apps you use. If you want to put an end to it, it's a little more difficult. You actually have to switch to Facebook, which Instagram owns.
To deactivate the personalization of ads, you must first go to Facebook's ad settings.
- On mobile devices in the Facebook app, tap the hamburger menu in the upper right corner, then choose Settings & Privacy> Settings> Ad Settings> Ad Settings.
- Just click here on the web to go to the "Your Ad Settings" page, then click "Ad Settings" to see your options.
- You want to turn off the two main options: "Ads based on partner data" and "Ads based on your activity on Facebook business products that you see elsewhere". This prevents Facebook from addressing you based on information it receives outside of Instagram.
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