Instagram has been through so many changes, it’s hard to remember what is truly private on your account and what’s not. As a Meta product, though, Instagram isn’t known to respect your data, so the most “privacy-friendly” option would be to delete your account entirely. If you’re not willing to go that far, though, the next best step is to make your Instagram account as private as it can possibly be.
Clear your Instagram browsing history
As a rule of thumb, you should not use browsers built into other apps. The in-app browsers used by Instagram and TikTok are terrible for your privacy. If you often click on various links in people’s Instagram bios, you should consider clearing your Instagram browsing history.
To start, click any link inside the Instagram app to launch the in-app browser. Now click the three dots in the top-right corner and select Browser settings. Tap the Clear button next to “Browsing data,” and Instagram will erase your browsing history.
Delete Instagram’s apps
Once you’re done with this, consider deleting the Instagram app and try using the service on a mobile browser such as Chrome or Safari. That’s far more privacy friendly than using the app (although you’ll miss out on some features). This also protects you from other privacy issues, such as giving the app access to your entire photo library, contacts, and other data.
You should also stop Instagram from tracking your activity across the internet. The easiest way to do so is on your iPhone. Go to Settings > Privacy > Tracking and disable Allow Apps to Request to Track. Apple now forces all apps to ask to track you, but if you turn off the ability to ask, the tracking is denied by default.
Restrict access to your data
You can also reevaluate how much data access Instagram really needs. For simply keeping up with friends, family, and your favorite accounts, the app works perfectly fine if you don’t give it access to your microphone, camera, location, photos, contacts, and the rest of your entire bio data.
How much you limit Instagram’s permissions is up to you and the way you use the app. To start, go to Settings > Privacy on your smartphone and check which permissions Instagram really needs. Unless you’re a content creator whose livelihood depends on Instagram, you might find you can actually revoke access to a whole bunch of things.
Consider stopping Instagram from accessing your contacts and photos at the very least. You don’t need to share contact information with Instagram, and, on iPhone, you can always go to the Photos app and use the share icon to post photos and videos to Instagram. If that’s too inconvenient, consider choosing to share only selected photos with Instagram, rather granting permission to all photos. That way, you get to choose exactly which photos and videos Instagram has access to, which will usually only be the ones you’re uploading. This feature is available on iPhone, as well as Android 13.
If you want to continue sharing your location with Instagram, you can still revoke its access to your precise location to make it harder to track you. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Instagram, and disable Precise Location.
Clear recent searches
It’s also a good idea to clear the list of accounts you’ve recently searched for on Instagram. This won’t really hide this information from Instagram or Facebook, but it does keep your search history away from prying eyes around you. To do this, open Instagram and click the magnifying glass icon in the bottom bar. Tap the See All button below the search bar, then tap Clear All in the top-right corner.
Check who can message you
It’s a good idea to stop strangers from tagging or messaging you on Instagram. This stops accounts from spamming or harassing you. Tap the profile icon in the bottom-right corner, then tap the hamburger menu in the top-right corner and select Settings. Go to Privacy > Messages. Select Others on Instagram and set this to Don’t receive requests to stop strangers from pinging you. On the previous page, you can also select People on Facebook, and Your followers on Instagram, and choose if you want to receive message requests from them.
Be aware that these settings do not impact your friends. As long as you and the other person follow each other, you’ll be able to message each other without problems.
Hide your activity status
You can hide your online status on Instagram pretty easily. To do so, go to Instagram settings, then Privacy > Activity Status. Turn off Show Activity Status for better privacy.
Stop people from using your photos in Remixes
If you have a public account on Instagram, all of your content can be used by anyone for their Remixes. This feature lets people use your photos, videos, and Reels for their own videos. To disable this, go to Instagram settings, then Privacy > Reels and Remix. Turn off every option on this page to stop others from using your content. Note that this option will not show up if you have a private account on Instagram.
Enable two-factor authentication
Last but not the least, you should enable two-factor authentication to keep your Instagram account secure. That way, if someone figures out your account’s password, they still won’t be able to break in without the unique 2FA code only you have access to. Go to Instagram settings > Security > Two-factor authentication. Select Authentication app and use apps such as 1Password, Google Authenticator, or Authy to receive one-time login codes.