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.
Instgre.at_Insta-great-screenshot_emilybinder

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

Stalkers

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.

Instagram_screenshot_photo_by_enda_ungu_emilybinder
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.

  • Guest

    If you ignore someones request to follow you will they know?

    • They won’t be notified directly. After they make the request to follow you, they will see “Requested” instead of the “Follow” button when they view your profile. Once you tap “Ignore” to their request, they will again see the original “Follow” button on your profile and be able to request to follow you again. They will know you’ve ignored the request if they realize the button on your profile has gone back to saying “Follow” instead of “Requested.” They might assume it is an error and re-follow you, but after more of the same outcome, they will probably figure it out. You can always block them and they cannot even request to follow you.

  • aa_r

    How will I remove a Like, if someone liked my post? Let’s say i unfriended a follower, but does she have still access on my account through her liked posts on my pictures? I want to remove her like.

    • 1. You cannot remove likes from your Instagram pictures.

      2a. If you are public: If a follower liked your photo then you unfollowed her, but she is still following you, she will still be able to see your photo that she liked in her liked photos feed.

      2b. If you are private: If a follower liked your photo then you unfollowed her, she will still be following you and thus she can view all of your photos. When you become private, all your followers come with you — privacy only affects new potential followers, who must be approved. If she is no longer following you either because she unfollowed you or you blocked her, she will not have access to see your photo that she liked. It will disappear from her liked photos feed once she refreshes it.

      Tip: If you are private and want to remove a follower without blocking anyone: unfollow -> block -> unblock.

      You asked if she still has access to your account by viewing your photo in her liked photos feed. My answers above relate to whether she can still view the liked photo. As far as access to your account meaning her being able to find your profile, yes, unless you blocked her, she could locate your profile by searching for you or by tapping on your username anywhere it appears on Instagram.

  • ashbabe

    My ex unfollowed me, but is still listed under a few pics that he Favorited.. even though I am private can he still see those pics?

    • If you’re private and he is not following you, no, he cannot see the pictures. If he liked them, his like will still appear but he cannot view the photos. You cannot delete the like either.

  • Hello123

    How do I get rid of other profile notifcations when I’ve already logged out of this profile and switched on back to mine? It was a friends instagram profile that I was on and now after I logged out I’m getting all of her notifications. Help! This is annoying!

    • There is a lag for push notifications between sessions. Are you using an iPhone? Once you log out of your friend’s profile, fully close the IG app. Open it again and log in to your profile. After that, you should only get your notifications. If you log her out but don’t log into a new profile, then you can still receive notifications on the most recently logged in account, strange as it seems.

  • Annoyed

    Each time I change my profile picture, my privacy turns on.  When I turn the privacy off, my profile picture gets deleted.  I’d like to keep my profile picture up and my account not on private.  How do I fix this?

  • Glcgehring

    Super helpful and insightful blog Emily! A couple quick questions…any new updates on an easier way to delete old IG photos? I’ve got about 600 total and 550 of which could/are ready to be deleted…Also, I have yet to actually print any of my IG photos, do you have any preference for places/websites that specifically print IG photos? Thanks so much!!

    • Hi, I have no updates on an easier way to delete Instagram photos besides doing it one by one. I haven’t used any of the photo printing services. I suggest you pose the question in a photo caption on your next upload. Depending on how many followers you have, someone may answer and have a great site to share. It would also be useful to tweet or post it on Facebook or Google+ if you have profiles on any of these. Crowdsource.

  • Bethcohen2000

    Hi My daughter (13) has an Instagram … Recently, someone created an acct that is exactly like her username but put “I hate…” In front of it. This person also wrote mean things about my daughter. I reported it to IG and it’s now gone. The very next day a new acct pops up saying rude comments on my daughters pics or pics she comments on. Is it true that I cannot find out who the person is w/o involving the police? My daughters school isn’t doing anything cuz it didn’t happen at school – also we hv no proof … How can I see the persons email or whatever …must I go to police?

    • Hi Beth, I am so sorry you are having to deal with this. From this moment forward, screenshot everything you can. If you see something that would incriminate this abusive user, screenshot it immediately on your iPhone because they could undo the action/delete a comment at some point. Ask your daughter to screenshot any abuse as well. Tell her to block any abusive user and to go on private mode.

      Depending on what state you live in, cyber bullying laws will vary. If she is 13, it’s likely this is someone she knows from school. It can be impossible to find out who has created a profile, especially if they use an alias and an unknown email address. If it’s someone your daughter knows and is friends with on any social network or whose contact info is stored in her phone, she could find the user by searching to add friends via Facebook, Twitter, or Contacts. Probably the abuser has made their profile anonymous, though.

      If you need to escalate this with the police, you’ll need solid evidence of harassment. Let your daughter know that she must not interact or engage with the abuser; this means that she can reply only one time saying “Leave me alone and do not contact me in any way.” Screenshot this and record the dates of every screenshot. Keep a detailed log. You will need this in order to report the abuse to the school or to police. Report any abusive user to Instagram.

      Ask your daughter if she has any idea who could be bullying her. Is it happening to her anywhere else online?

      I believe it is the school’s responsibility, especially during the treacherous middle school years, to create a safe haven and to educate and truly commit to zero tolerance policies about bullying in any form. Additionally, they have no idea whether this is happening at school. Kids have phones at school. Ask your daughter if this is happening to anyone else in her school. If you can demonstrate a pattern (ideally going to the school with one or more other parents) you will have a better chance of convincing them that it is a serious problem. After Columbine and numerous school shootings by bullied students, ignoring this is irresponsible, risky, and demonstrates total ignorance. If you want to let me know the username(s) of the abuser, comment or use my contact form to email me. I can dig around and see what I can find out.

  • Icewater3001

    How can I stop people from seeing what pics Im liking?

    • Simply: Unfollow them or block them. Your followers can see the pictures your like in their Following feed. No one but you can view a complete list of all photos you have liked (whether they follow you or not). If a user looks at their Following feed in a time window during which you liked photos and the actions of the other users that they follow have not pushed your likes too far to the bottom, the other user can see the photo(s) you recently liked.

      You likes on individual photos are visible to anyone who can see the photo (whether they follow you or not, whether you’re public or private) except for users you blocked before the like.

  • Alissa64

    what happens when I logout of instagram? Can people still see my photos

    • Your profile, photos, and settings are not changed when you log out. Anyone who can view your profile or photos can do so whether you are logged in or out. You will stop receiving push notifications from the app. All notifications (such as comments, likes, and @ mentions) will be available in your feed when you log back in. Other users cannot tell any difference whether you are logged in or out.

  • Lialarsenx3

    If my profile is private does that mean they don’t show up when I tag them in cats of instagram and the like?

  • Milliondollarvixen

    If I take a picture using IG do my followers automatically see the picture? Is there a way to only allow certain pictures or do followers see every picture?

    Great Blog! Thank you!

    • No, followers can see every picture. There is no filtering setting.

  • Caseylea78

    Hi
    I searched for friends through the contacts and I accidentally clicked follow on someone I forgot was in my contact list it said requested because she is private then I emmediatley clicked it again then it said follow again. Will she be notified that I requested to “follow ” her even if I cancelled it right away? I also changed my profile name and am set to private and I blocked her LOL

  • Salma 88 Salma

    i am trying to delete some of my 460 followers who i dont know, but i cant see them all!! how can i delete them then :S?!!

    • If you’re a public user, anyone can follow you. The only way to stop someone from following you while you are public is to block them. However, if you’re on private mode, you can control who follows you, even those that are already following you. On private mode, to remove a follower without blocking anyone: unfollow user -> block user -> unblock user. That way they will have to request to follow you again.

  • Jping

    If you like a picture by accident on someones’s account, and then immediately unlike the picture. Does the person still get the notification that you liked it?

    • Yes, they will get the notification if they are logged in with Instagram running and if they have not refreshed the app before you unliked it.

  • annoyed

    someone wants to follow me but it did not show an apporve or ignore thing on the top like usual. i tried blocking this user but it didnt do anything and they remain in my notifications and never goes away help!! its annoying me 

    • It sounds like you are a private user. This person is already following you? To remove a follower while you are private: Follow the user -> unfollow -> block -> unblock. Refresh the app. Log out and log in again. Then make sure you aren’t following them. Block them.

  • M_adams07

    I was randomly logged out of my IG and while I tried to log back in it informed me that my account had been inactive. I tried creating a new username and profile and the same thing happened. I never post anything explicit so I don’t understand why it’s “inactive” .

  • Chilling_pur

    is there a way to hide my photos from a user that has me blocked?

    • Look for a like or comment that the user posted before they blocked you. This is the only way to find a link to their profile, as they will not be searchable once they block you. You may need to look at older photos (see if there is one that you posted that they liked or commented on before they blocked you). Tap their username and you’ll get to their profile. Block them.

  • MAD AND ANNOYED

    How do I keep on public and change profile pics! Very annoyed !!!

    •  This is a bug that Instagram is supposedly working to fix.

  • Chris Rowan

    How do I delete a photo I like by accident.

    • Tap the like button again – that will remove your like.

  • Babyliz3026

    How can I delete a picture from my instergram??

    • Go to your photo. Scroll to the bottom right and tap on the ellipse (three dots). Then tap the Delete option.

  • Dhavens129

    how do you get your ink361(instagram account onnline) to log out for good where no one can get on it again??????????

  • brittany johnson

    my picture changes on its own and my privacy unchecks itself, on a daily basis, whats uP>?

    • Other users are having the same problem. This is a bug that Instagram is supposedly working to fix.

  • HELP ME PLEASE

    I blocked my friend temporarily and then unblocked him. I am following him and he can view my pictures but he can’t follow me for some reason. How do we fix this.

    • Are you a private user? Either way, try this: Both of you need to log out and log back in to Instagram. Then you go to his profile. Unfollow him. Block him. Unblock him. Now you are not following him and not blocking him — neutral. Make sure he has not blocked you. Have him visit your profile and tap the follow button. If the follow button does not appear, it may mean he has already requested to follow you. Check for that. Let me know if he still cannot follow you.

  • Hga

    Say bob blocked Jane, can Jane see if I tag @bob in a comment/picture?

  • Incbsgrl85

    If I block someone, then unblock them again. Will they automatically be put back on my following/followers list? I just wanna delete some people and know that blocking them is the only way. But didt know what happens after the block and unblock process.

    Thanks 🙂

    • No, a blocked then unblocked user won’t automatically be following you again. They will need to follow you again themselves.

  • Heart

    Is there an App in Instagram that you can see who viewed you?

  • Monica

    Is there a way to make the people I follow private? I have my profile private but is there a way my followers cant see who I’m following?

    • No, you can’t hide who you are following from your followers unless you use a trick: follow 1,000 people or more.

  • glist

    Can we hide/block certain photos from certain followers?

    • No, there are no photo-specific privacy settings.

  • Juarez_anika

    What happens if i Ignored someone By accident do they send it again or what ?

    •  Assuming you’re a private user and you mean someone tried to follow you and you ignored them, yes, they’ll have to request to follow you again.

  • Anonymous

    When I try posting a photo, it always fails. I’ve been trying to put up photos on Instagram for about 3 days already and it really won’t let me. Do you have any idea on how I can resolve this problem?

    • The more information you give me, the better I can try to help. What device are you using, have you posted sucessfully in the past, are you sure you’ve updated to the lastest version of Instagram? Is it possible that someone reported you to IG and your account is disabled? Log out, close the app, open the app, log in, refresh, and try again.