Instagram Privacy Tips and FAQ


I reveal the mysteries of Instagram‘s inner workings. Some nuances to privacy settings are unclear on Instagram Help, so let’s shed some light. Skip to ii. Privacy below if you know enough about account management and third party Instagram websites.Instagram_screenshot_photo_by_enda_ungu_emilybinder

i. Instagram FAQ

1. Can I have multiple usernames?
Yes. Each must be associated with a different email address.

2. Can I toggle between my usernames on the iPhone app?
No, you have to log out and log in to switch your profile. Here are tips on using Dropbox and Fotogramme to make toggling less painful.

3. Can I see Instagram pictures online?
Yes. Some are directly uploaded to Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous etc. But if a user simply tweets a link to the IG picture, you can see it by clicking the link (or in’s native display). However, you won’t be able to login and Like or comment. To do this:

4. Can I Like and comment Instagram pictures online while being logged into and able to manage my IG account?
Yes. For this, I like best. There are several other¬† third party Instagram services. This post covers the top 10, however I’ll leave out the cat-related and meaningless competition-based ones in my list.These are the other two sites with functionality closest to the Instagram iPhone app:

A. Ink361 (formerly Inkstagram) Login to this web-based version of Instagram. You can do everything you can on the iPhone app except add new pictures.

B. Insta-great Login to see Instagram photos, follow/unfollow users, or to like photos. Filter photos by dates, users, or tags. You can only view one picture in full size at a time.Instgre.at_Insta-great-screenshot_emilybinderTo see IG photos in a stream or grid, try the web gallery Instagrid.

ii. Privacy Tips

You can block a user. This means that even if they are following you, they will not see your photos in their Instagram feed, nor will your actions (commenting, liking) show up in their News – Following feed. However, they can still see your photos in other ways: If you tweet or post a link to another social network when you share an IG photo, they can click it and see the photo. For example, I am on private mode but I shared to Twitter when I uploaded this Sweetwater Brewing Co. Instagram photo: Sweetwater Brewery Instagram picture by Emily Binder Twitter adoreajarbakery

Anyone can see this photo online, but only IG users who I have approved to follow me can A) view it naturally in their feed, B) view it within the iPhone app, C) like or comment. Don’t put anything on Instagram that you’d be ashamed for someone to see.

Private mode

You can toggle “Photos are private” on or off in the app Profile settings. Anyone who followed you while you were not in private mode will not be affected, but new followers will be in approval purgatory just like on Foursquare. More on viewing private photos online here.


If you are already in private mode and still have a particular user you don’t want to have access, be mindful of new followers. If a user has few pictures (less than ten), few followers, or lacks profile picture: red flag.

If you’re concerned about a stalker, save all their email addresses in your phone contacts. When a new user joins IG with an email address you stored, IG announces, “Your friend (Caught B. Ingdumb) just joined Instagram.” Not knowing this, the stalker will assume that their fake profile is unbeknownst to you.

Check out my post about privacy and notifications for liking and unliking on Instagram.

Deleting comments on Instagram for iPhone

You can delete your own comments anywhere and others’ comments on your photos. When viewing any photo, click “comment” at the bottom as if you were going to comment. If you slide your finger left over any comment, you’ll have the option to delete it. Slide back to the right if you don’t want to delete. Comment with any questions. Follow me on Instagram @emilybinder.

*This blog is not affiliated with Instagram in any way. My knowledge is based on my own experience and experimentation.

Update 2/10/12: Due to the volume of comments, it may take me a few days to respond. Read through the posted responses to see if your question has already been answered.

Update 8/27/12: Instagram 3.0 was released on 8/16/12. This app update introduced Photo Maps and greater privacy over the following and follower lists for private users (now these lists are not visible to non-followers). This post was originally published on 12/6/11 and the comments predating 8/16/12 reflect Instagram 2.0. I won’t go back and edit all the comments but I will answer in real time going forward.

  • Britney Thompson

    my page is public and there are people following me and now show I am following them how is that when I never selected to follow them

  • Angie

    Hi Emily! Thanks for your post. question for you: we are recently new to instagram as a business account. I just did a contest to gain followers and asked them to repost and hashtag #woodkeepschristmas2013 as well as tag their friends. When viewing the hashtag, it said there were 12 posts but I was only seeing 4. Was this because I wasn’t following those other people and their photos were set to private? How can I get around this? I don’t want to follow every single person who follows me but if I have contests, I almost have to in order to keep track of who is entering, is this right? I also can’t see when a person tags me by @woodkeeps in their photos if I am not following them. I should be able to view the tags regardless right? Any help with this would be so appreciated. I can’t seem to find anything in this issue but people do contests all the time. What am I missing?! :)

  • N

    How can I hide people I am following from my followers ?

    • Emily Binder

      You can’t hide the people you’re following from your followers. However, if person A is following you and they have blocked person B, if person B is following you they will not be able to see person A as your follower. They would see (for example) 15 followers but only 14 usernames (the 15th, person A, would be invisible to them).

  • Anonymous

    Can a person block you after you’ve blocked them? For example, if they can still find you through likes and other things they can still see your stuff and “regram” it but if you go to check and it says no results does that mean they’ve blocked you as well somehow?

    • Emily Binder

      Yes, someone can block you after you’ve blocked them. And yes, if you search a username that exists but you see no results, you’ve been blocked by that person.

  • mahsa

    i dont want my followers or anyone else “copy my URL” on my photos on instagram.what should i do??
    i mean i dont want anyone be able to save my pics
    my post are private too
    2. is there any way to hide my following? i mean i dont want anyone see which persons im following.
    i saw in some of my frnd on istagram that he just follow 4 person but when i wanna see whom he follow, the “NO USER FOUND” apear!!
    i want this in my profile

    • Emily Binder

      There is no way to prevent your followers from being able to copy the URL of your photos. Being a private user is the best you can do as far as preventing people you have not approved to follow you from saving your pics.

  • Kyra

    Is there a way to make your account private towards one person without blocking them?

    • Emily Binder


  • Autumn

    If I’ve been blocked, and if my page is not set to private,can that person still see my photos? Or do I have to block them also? Thanks!

  • CC

    If I log into my ex’s Instagram will he get a notification that somebody logged into it?

    • Emily Binder


  • Aaron

    Every time I unlike a picture and refresh it, it says that I’m still liking the picture. How can I change that?

  • Anon

    If someone blocked me, will my comments still show up on their photos?

    • Emily Binder