Is Instagram Safe?

Last updated: February 11, 2016 - 9:11pm EST

How safe is Instagram?

While Instagram is a very popular mobile application, some may ask: "is it safe, too?"  The answer is: "yes, for the most part."  That is to say that Instagram is about as safe as many of the other popular social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter.

What this means is that Instagram is relatively safe to use, as long as you don't do something on it that's overly careless or in violation of their terms of use.  Still, there are some general precautions that you should take in order to be safe on Instagram.

Top 5 Instagram safety tips

1. Think before you post.

The number one thing to remember about Instagram is that it's a social network, at least in part.  This means that you should only post photos and videos on it that you think would be appropriate in a general social setting, where they could be viewed by people you know as well as people you don't know. 

Ask yourself: would I be okay with showing this to one of my friend's friends at a party, or to a random friendly person on the street with whom I somehow struck up a conversation?  If the answer is "no", then you should probably keep it off Instagram.  At the very least, you should consider using more private options to share it; our next tip has more information about that.

2. Know how to use Instagram's privacy options.

Some people like to rack up followers on Instagram in order to show off how popular they are.  However, if you're not looking to attract attention on Instagram, there are some options available to you. 

You can set your account to private mode; this makes it so that people have to submit requests and have them approved by you in order to become your followers, and so that only your followers can see what you post. 

You can also use "Instagram Direct" to share a post directly with certain people (even if they aren't your followers), and it won't show up on any of your profiles or in any searches.

See our Instagram Privacy article for more information on private Instagram accounts and Instagram Direct.

3. Be respectful of other Instagram users.

In the course of using Instagram, you may come across a photo, caption, or comment that causes you anger or distress.  While it may be tempting to write a comment expressing your displeasure, or to start or continue an argument, show some consideration for your fellow Instagram users by taking a step back and thinking about a few things.

First of all, ask yourself: what is the context?  Check any hashtags (words, shortforms, or phrases that start with the "#" sign) in the caption or comments, and look up their meanings if they aren't obvious to you.  Also check previous comments that have been made about a photo, or even the profile of the person who posted the photo.  The photo may be part of a series or trend, or otherwise have some sort of meaning that isn't readily apparent, which may not actually warrant a negative response.

Second, ask yourself: is there a point to (potentially) starting or continuing an argument?  Debating topics that you feel strongly about may be okay, but at some point, it may become apparent that nobody in the debate is actually considering each other's points.  A sure sign of this is that the conversation devolves into participants hurling personal insults at each other.  At that point, as hard as it may be, you should ask yourself: "Is getting my point across worth the risk of people continuing to be angry and hurtful towards me?"

In summary, your best policy may be simply to view or comment on photos that you like, and ignore photos or comments that may set you off.  As the saying goes, "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything."

4. If someone on Instagram is harassing you, block them.

Hopefully, it won't happen, but some people on Instagram may repeatedly contact you in order to try to sell you something or otherwise just annoy you.  Others may incessantly ask you for favours, such as "liking" their photos or following their profile.  In extreme cases, they may ask for money, sexually-explicit images of you, or something else, and may threaten to expose information about you if you do not meet their demands. 

In any of these cases, the best thing to do is block the person who is doing it, which prevents them from finding or contacting you on Instagram.  See our How to Delete Followers on Instagram tutorial to learn how to block Instagram users.

Also, if someone is threatening you or asking you for something really uncomfortable, you should probably also report the person to Instagram, or even local law enforcement.  See our next tip for more about that.

5. If you see something inappropriate on Instagram, report it.

While it doesn't happen very often, there are certain instances where people use Instagram to do inappropriate things.  These include impersonating other people, deliberately insulting and offending other people or groups, distributing pornography, or blackmailing people by threatening to release private information. 

If you spot anyone practicing these types of behaviour on Instagram -- or wind up a victim of one of these behaviours -- let Instagram know about it.  Also, if you feel directly threatened, you may want to contact your local law enforcement branch as well.

See our How to Contact Instagram Customer Service tutorial to learn how to get in touch with Instagram if you need to report someone who is breaking the rules.


That's the best advice that we can give you for how to stay safe on Instagram.  Remember, Instagram is intended to be an enjoyable space for you and everyone else who uses it, so stay vigilant against bad behaviour, and keep things civil!


Mark_complete_sm Back_to_course Go to Instagram

More Instagram Tutorials

See all 24 Instagram tutorials

Did you learn what you wanted to?

Was something in this tutorial missing, confusing, or out of date? Or did it give you all the information you needed, and you just want to say "thanks"? We'd love to hear what you thought!