How to Navigate Instagram Privacy Settings: A Comprehensive Guide

By: Ellen Bartolino

Navigating the privacy settings on Instagram can significantly enhance your experience on the platform by helping you control who sees your content and interacts with you. Whether you’re using the Instagram app on iOS or another system, understanding these settings is crucial for anyone looking to protect their privacy. This guide will walk you through the essential steps to make your account private, manage tags, control activity status, and much more.

From deciding who can see your posts on Instagram to handling location services and third-party access, this guide ensures that you have all the information you need to maintain as much control as possible over your personal information and how it is used. Whether you want to keep your Instagram activities private or simply understand more about the app’s privacy features, you’ll find valuable insights on how to customize your experience to suit your comfort level.

How to navigate instagram privacy settings

Setting Up Basic Privacy Controls

Managing your privacy on Instagram begins with understanding and configuring the basic privacy controls. These settings allow you to determine who can see your posts on Instagram and how you are represented on the platform.

Activity Status: Managing Who Sees You Online

One crucial aspect of privacy is managing your activity status. This feature lets others know when you’re online or when you last used the Instagram app. To modify this setting, go to your profile, tap the menu in the top right, and select Settings. From there, navigate to Privacy and find the Activity Status option. Here, you can toggle it off to ensure that no one knows when you’re online, enhancing your privacy.

Influencer Privacy Practices: A study examined how influencers manage their privacy settings amidst their need for public engagement. The study found that many influencers selectively manage follower interactions and strategically use privacy settings to balance public visibility with personal privacy. For a deeper look into these practices, you can refer to the detailed findings here.

Tag Control: How to Manage Tags from Friends and Third-Parties

Another significant aspect of controlling your digital footprint on Instagram is managing how you are tagged in photos and videos. To adjust these settings, go to settings through the profile icon in the top-right corner, and select Privacy. Within this menu, you’ll find options related to tags under Tags. You can choose to manually approve tags before they appear on your profile. This setting is essential for those who want to maintain control over the content associated with their account, especially when other users or third-party apps attempt to tag you.

By setting your Instagram account to private, you can further protect your privacy. This means that only approved followers can see your photos and videos posted. To make your account private, go to privacy in the settings menu and toggle the option under Account Privacy. This change restricts new followers and requires them to send a request to follow, which you can approve or deny.

These basic controls are the first step towards safeguarding your privacy on Instagram. By customizing your activity status and how you handle tags, you significantly reduce the visibility of your online activities to outsiders. Additionally, switching to a private account provides an extra layer of security, ensuring that only people you trust have access to your Instagram posts.

After experiencing a minor scare with a login attempt from an unknown location, I immediately set up two-factor authentication on my Instagram account. This extra layer of security has given me peace of mind knowing that there’s an additional step to verify my identity.

Securing Your Instagram Account

To ensure your Instagram profile is as secure as possible, it’s vital to implement several advanced security measures. These steps not only help in safeguarding your account but also in preventing unauthorized access.

Two-Factor Authentication: A Must-Have Layer of Security

A fundamental way to secure your Instagram account is by enabling two-factor authentication (2FA). This security feature adds an extra layer of protection by requiring a second form of verification in addition to your password when logging in. To activate 2FA, go to your profile, tap the cog icon in the top right corner, and select Security. From there, choose Two-Factor Authentication and follow the instructions to set it up using either a text message or a third-party authentication app like Google Authenticator.

Recognizing and Preventing Hacks

Being vigilant about potential security threats is crucial for protecting your account. Regularly update your password and be wary of emails or messages that request personal information or direct you to a different website. If you suspect your account has been hacked, immediately change your password and check your account’s email and other sensitive settings for any changes. Additionally, Instagram provides a helpful guide on what to do if you’ve been hacked, available in the privacy and security section of the Instagram settings.

By strengthening your account with two-factor authentication and being proactive about security, you can significantly enhance your defenses against potential hackers. Remember, the security of your account not only protects your photos and videos but also your personal information and digital interactions.

Privacy and security section

Understanding and Managing Third-Party Access

As you navigate the digital landscape of Instagram, it’s crucial to understand how third-party applications and services can access your data. Managing these permissions is key to maintaining your privacy and ensuring that your information remains secure.

Third-Party Apps: How to Regulate External Access to Your Instagram

Many applications and services request access to your Instagram account to offer enhanced functionalities or for advertising purposes. To review and manage these permissions, go to your profile, tap the menu in the top right, and select Settings. Then, navigate to Security and choose Apps and Websites. This section lists all third-party services that have access to your account. From here, you can remove any apps that you no longer use or do not recognize, thus preventing unnecessary data sharing.

Instagram Ads: Control How Ads Are Personalized Based on Websites You Visit

Instagram ads are personalized based on your activity within the app and on other sites across the internet that you visit. To manage these preferences, go to settings, tap Ads, and then Ad Preferences. Here, you can view the information that influences the ads you see and make adjustments to limit ad personalization, effectively reducing how much data Instagram can use to target ads toward you.

By taking control of third-party app permissions and ad settings, you ensure that your personal preferences dictate the data shared and the level of ad personalization you are comfortable with. These settings play a crucial role in keeping your Instagram interactions private and tailored to your expectations.

I noticed I was seeing too many targeted ads related to recent web searches. By going into Instagram’s Ad Preferences, I customized the settings to reduce the number of targeted ads, which made my browsing experience more pleasant and less intrusive.

Advanced Privacy Settings

Fine-tuning advanced privacy settings on Instagram can provide you with greater control over your online presence and help you manage interactions more effectively. These settings are crucial for users who want to maximize their privacy and limit how much personal information is accessible on the platform.

One of the key areas where privacy often gets compromised is through location data

Location Data: Managing Geotags and Location Services

One of the key areas where privacy often gets compromised is through location data. Instagram allows you to add location tags to your posts, which can be fun but also risks revealing your whereabouts. To manage this, you can choose not to add a location to your posts manually. Additionally, ensure that location services are disabled for Instagram in your device’s settings to prevent the app from accessing your location in the background.

Stop People: How to Restrict User Interaction and Block Unwanted Contacts

If you’re looking to restrict interactions or stop people from accessing your profile, Instagram offers several tools. To block a user, go to their profile, tap the three dots in the top right corner, and select ‘Block’. You can also adjust your comment controls in the privacy settings to limit who can comment on your posts. These measures are essential for maintaining a safe and comfortable environment on your profile.

By carefully managing your location data and utilizing Instagram’s user interaction controls, you can significantly enhance your privacy. These advanced settings not only protect your information but also give you peace of mind when engaging on the platform.

Engagement on Instagram: Instagram users are highly active, with 38% logging in multiple times a day and only 0.1% being solely loyal to Instagram, suggesting the use of multiple social platforms by most users​ (Sortlist)​.


Mastering the privacy options on Instagram is essential for anyone eager to shield their online presence and safeguard their personal data. By diligently adjusting your privacy and security settings, you assert control over who can view your posts on Instagram and the manner in which your information is utilized. From initiating basic privacy controls to handling advanced settings, each adjustment you make is a step toward a more secure and confidential Instagram experience.

It’s important to remember that securing your Instagram account does more than just protect you from potential threats like hackers; it also improves your overall user experience. Consequently, make it a habit to routinely check your settings and modify them as necessary. The value of your privacy cannot be overstated.

Armed with this thorough guide to Instagram, you are well-prepared to safeguard your privacy and navigate the platform with assurance. Embrace the responsibility of managing your digital footprint effectively—start today by exploring the icon in the bottom right to change your account to private or adjust your app’s access. As Instagram’s settings may vary slightly, keep informed and adapt to maintain your desired level of privacy. Take control and ensure your settings reflect your preferences, ensuring a safer browsing experience on this popular social platform.

Privacy and security settings

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I change my Instagram account from public to private using the mobile app?

To change your Instagram account to private on the mobile app, go to your profile, tap the hamburger menu in the top right corner, and then select Settings. Under Privacy, toggle the option for Private Account. This change will restrict new followers, who will need your approval to see the photos and videos you post.

What should I do if I don’t want my Instagram activity to be visible on Facebook?

If you prefer to keep your Instagram activity separate from Facebook, you can manage this by adjusting the Linked Accounts settings. Go to your profile, tap Settings, and select Account. From here, you can control what information is shared between your Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Can I stop Instagram from accessing my location without affecting other app functionalities?

Yes, you can restrict Instagram’s access to your location through your device’s settings. On iOS, go to Settings, find Instagram, and set Location to ‘Never’. This stops the app from accessing your location data, which won’t affect other functionalities like posting or viewing content.

Is there a way to hide my online status on Instagram from people I don’t follow back?

To hide your online status on Instagram from non-followers, navigate to Settings, select Privacy, and then Activity Status. Here, you can choose to show your activity status only to followers you follow back, enhancing your privacy without the other person knowing.

How can Instagram’s new parent company, Meta, affect my privacy settings?

With Meta as the new parent company, there may be changes in how privacy settings are managed on Instagram. However, Meta has committed to keeping individual app policies intact. Users should stay informed about any policy updates and adjust their settings accordingly to ensure their privacy preferences are maintained.

Author Bio

Ellen Bartolino

Ellen is a seasoned author and communication expert, with a particular focus on Instagram. Her extensive knowledge of the platform has allowed her to create engaging and effective content for businesses and individuals alike. Ellen has a proven track record of crafting compelling Instagram captions and influencer marketing.