By default, Instagram is not private. Anyone who has an account can find and view your profile, photos, and videos. However, there are certain options that allow you to choose who can see your content.
If you’d like some general information and tips for how to stay private on social media services, see our social media privacy article.
How to be private on Instagram
There are two major ways to be private on Instagram: set your account to private, or use Instagram Direct.
How to Make Instagram Private
Open the app on your mobile device and log in.
Tap the Profile icon () in the bottom-right corner, and then tap the three white dots in the top-right corner.
Scroll down to the “Account” section, and tap the toggle button beside “Private Account” to turn it on (like it is here).
You have now set your account to private mode. This makes it so that, from now on, anyone who wants to see your photos and videos has to go to your profile and request to be one of your followers. You can approve or reject these requests as you wish.
Conversely, if you wish to see the photos and videos on someone’s private account, you must go to their profile and request to become one of their followers. Again, they can choose to accept or reject your request.
Note that making your account private will not affect people who are already following you. See our How to Delete Followers on Instagram tutorial if you want to stop someone from following you on Instagram.
How to use Instagram Direct
Instagram Direct is a relatively new feature that increases the privacy of your posts. When you use Instagram Direct to post a photo or video, only the people whom you approve to see it will be able to access it.
In other words, a photo or video posted with Instagram Direct won’t show up on either the profiles or home pages of you or the people whom you send it to. It also will not show up in any searches.
To use Instagram Direct:
Open the application on your mobile device and log in (if you haven’t already).
Tap the Home icon () in the bottom-left corner to get to your main page (if you’re not there already), and then tap the Instagram Direct icon () in the top-right corner.
This will tell Instagram that you want to send your post directly to someone else. To begin, tap the “+” sign in the top-right corner.
Choose the photo or video that you wish to post, and then make any edits to it that you wish.
You will notice that Direct is automatically selected when you reach the “Share To” page. Tap in the “Write a Caption” field and type in something to say about this photo. Then tap in the “To” field and type in the name of someone whom you want to send your photo or video to. Tap Search For [Person’s Name] to bring up a list of people who might be the person you’re looking for. When you find the person, tap the circle beside their name to put a checkmark in it.
You can also quickly select people whom you’re following as a default. Continue searching for and checking off people whom you want to send your photo or video to, and then tap the checkmark in the top-right corner to send off your photo or video.
There! Now you know two different ways to make your Instagram activity more private!