woman taking iPhone picture of city for Instagram

Instagram Privacy Tips and FAQ

Accidentally liked a picture on InstagramCheck out my post about privacy and notifications for liking and unliking on Instagram.

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 basic account management and third party tools.

Instagram of two dogs
Atlanta’s favorite startup mascots Coleman and Paloma at Strongbox West

i. Instagram FAQ

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

2. How do I toggle between multiple Instagram accounts?
First, login to one account. Go to your profile and tap the gear icon (iPhone) or verticle three dot icon (Android) in the top right. Scroll down and tap Add Account. Enter your other username and password.

To switch between accounts you’ve added:
Go to your profile. Tap your username at the top. Tap the account you’d like to switch to.

3. Can I see Instagram pictures on a desktop/laptop or in my browser outside the app?
Yes, at instagram.com/USERNAME. Alternatively, users can directly share pictures to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and via direct message, text message, or email. If a user simply tweets a link to the IG picture, you can see the picture by clicking the link (it used to appear in twitter.com’s native display). However, you won’t be able to login and Like or comment when viewing IG pics shared to these other networks; the likes and comments would be native to those platforms. To like or comment within Instagram on your browser (not using the app), login to instagram.com.

4. Can I like and comment on Instagram pictures outside the app? How can I manage my Instagram account in a browser?
Yes. For both, the simplest way is to login at instagram.com.

Third Party Instagram Apps:

There are several third party Instagram services worth trying. Here are 7 great Instagram apps including Layout, Hyperlapse, and Latergramme (list created July 2015).

A. Check out Flow for looking and liking (not posting). It’s a sleek iPad and iPhone app with a layout and interface superior to Instagram’s. Bonus: it’s ad-free. Preview thumbnails allow you to swipe through an array of photos and videos. Standard IG features like clicking through to profiles, liking posts, and seeing posts that you’ve liked are there, plus you can bookmark what you’ve liked.

Unfortunately, due to Instagram’s API changes, Flow will most likely stop working on June 1, 2016. As I’ve been saying for years, Facebook will kill Instagram.

B. Ink361 (formerly Inkstagram) A webviewer for Instagram photos. Login with your Instagram credentials. You can do everything you can on the iPhone app except add new pictures.

5. How can I print my Instagram photos?
Try socialprintstudio.com (formerly Printstagram) or try the iPhone app PostalPix to print four-inch squares from your Instagram library for 30 cents each.

ii. Privacy Tips

Sweetwater Brewery Instagram picture
Years ago Instagram photos appeared natively within Twitter. No longer, unless you use IFTTT.

You can block any user. This means that even if they are following you, they will not see your photos in their feed, nor will your actions (commenting, liking) show up in their following feed. However, a blocked user can still see your photos in other ways:
1) If you’re public and you share an IG post to another social network where they can see your posts. For example, I was private on IG but I shared to Twitter when I uploaded this photo. Anyone could see this photo on Twitter, but only IG users who I have approved to follow me can A) view it natively in their IG feed, B) view it within the IG app, and C) like or comment.
2) If you’re public and they create another account.
3) If you’re private and you accept a new follower you don’t know, it could be the person you blocked.
4) And unfortunately, you have to remember that anything you post can always be captured on a screenshot and shared privately between other users.

Private mode

You can toggle “Private Account” on or off in your Profile settings.  (Tap the person icon on the bottom right of the app, then tap the gear icon in top right for Options.) Anyone who followed you while you were not in private mode will not be affected, but new followers will be in approval purgatory. More on viewing private photos online here.

pretty nails taking iPhone picture of city
Photo credit: Jay Wennington


If you are already private and still have a particular user you don’t want to have access, be wary of new followers. If an unfamiliar user has few pictures (less than 5-10), few legitimate followers, or bot or spam accounts interacting with their photos, this may be a fake account. Oh, and the obvious red flag is having no profile picture.

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

Deleting comments on Instagram

You can delete others’ comments on your photos and any of your own comments. When viewing your photo, tap the talk bubble icon below the photo. If you slide your finger to the left over any comment, you’ll have the option to delete it. If you accidentally delete, you can tap to undo.

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

Update 4/27/16: Due to time constraints, I’m no longer able to post individual answers to your questions, but if you comment below someone else from the community may answer your question.

Update 3/28/16: I’ve updated this post for Instagram version 7.19 for iOS

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.

This was the original featured image for this post when I first published it in 2011. #tbt …

Tip: CTRL + F keywords in the comments to see if your question has already been answered. Up-vote the comments that you care about the most.

  • chris

    can I tell who viewed my instagram? are there apps?

  • Kirsten Harley

    I have a question, so I was going thru my discover friends list and it tells me who I’m friends with on Facebook but that I’m not following, it also tells me pages I like on Facebook that I’m also not following on IG, but I noticed that it says on two people following you, but they are not actually on my list of followers ? What does that mean ?

  • Anna

    is the “similar to accounts you interact with” based on profiles you look at/visit or is it just like, comment and follows?

    • I am not certain but I imagine it’s based on an algorithm that gives the most weight to profiles you like/comment/follow, but also is based on anything you’ve searched or viewed on Instagram, and potentially on Facebook as well.

    • Instagram has not made public the algorithm used to choose the suggested accounts. But they are most likely related to other accounts you like, follow, or comment on. If you’ve connected to Facebook, there may be some Facebook activity that impacts it as well because IG and FB share an ad platform.

  • JojoRiley

    If my Instagram profile is private & we do NOT follow each other can someone still see if I viewed their video?

  • JojoRiley

    If my Instagram profile is private & we do NOT follow each other can someone still see if I viewed their video?

  • Justice Served

    my ex blocked me on IG and his name doesn’t pop up in my search…but at 1am I put in the first letter of his name and he popped up? what the fuck ? If Im blocked and he wasn’t showing up in search before , why is he showing up in search now?

  • koren

    can someone see if you follow there links in bio in IG

    • No. They could count the number of clicks on those URLs if they had a tracking URL such as bit.ly, but even then it would be anonymous clicks.

  • Hi Ricky, it looks like you’re following everyone pictured, but on the left, this shows who is following YOU. Google tells me that Mengikuti means “Follow” – so I understand your question. I would try to unfollow then refollow the two accounts on the bottom. The app has been updated since your comment… if you still have the question, feel free to post another screenshot.

  • Monica

    I don’t really have follwers I don’t really use instagram….but when I do I see lots of half naked girls …..why?? I don’t search for anyone and I don’t follow half naked girls ….lol

  • Fariz Revan

    I wanna ask something, is “similar to account you interact with” based on profiles that our followers visit ? Or it is based on profiles we look at/visit ?

    • Instagram has not made public the algorithm used to choose the suggested accounts. But they are most likely related to other accounts that you like, follow, or comment on (“activity”). If you’ve connected Instagram to Facebook, there may be some Facebook activity that impacts the recommended Instagram accounts as well because IG and FB share an ad platform.

  • Harry Lightman

    About third-party apps. Did you hear something about zen-promo? I was strongly recommended to use it if I need more followers. I checked it and it looks trustworthy. I don’t know is it “legal” and I don’t need followers right now but just in case