Instagram was the second most popular social networking app in the US in 2019 (Statista). The platform offers all users with many options for sharing their life in images and short videos. Instagram is a great platform for social media influencers as well because it allows them to is reach a large audience. Another great feature of the platform is searchability: the app displays content made publicly available by users and users can also search profiles and keywords to find people.
If you’re like most social media users, you don’t worry about reading the terms of service when you sign up. In the TOS, social media companies usually mention what information they collect and how that information is used. One of the uses is to provide you with a more personalized experience. But, the other part can be a little sketchy, as we have found out with Facebook’s recent troubles.
As a user of the app, you provide your contact information or other social media accounts when you sign up. Inside the app, there are many features for personalizing each post. Of course, personalized information like the location where you took a photo or the people you took the photo with makes it memorable. But, you should also be mindful of how you share this information. Here are some tips to protect your privacy on Instagram:
Do some detective work
As mentioned above, Instagram allows you to provide the location with the picture. The app also records the location from you where you log into your account. One good way to check the security of your account is to review your login location data. Go to Settings > Login Activity on the desktop. This page contains the locations from where you have logged in. If you see any suspicious activity, like logins at times when you weren’t at that location, change your Instagram password. If you stay logged in on your devices, then also log out from the devices before changing your password.
Choose who knows you’re on Instagram
Like other social media apps, Instagram can also connect to your contacts list. This feature is convenient because you don’t have to individually send requests to everyone in your contacts, but it also means you share all of your contacts with the app. If you gave Instagram access to your contacts to connect with your friends, turn off this option by taking the following steps: “Settings” > “Account” > “Contacts Syncing,” and from there Disable “Connect Contacts.” This feature is particularly useful if you don’t want everyone to know about your account: take a minute or two to go through your contacts and invite the people you want to connect with.
Instagram also groups accounts based on similarities and then suggests these accounts to new users. You can stop the app from suggesting your account to others from your profile. From the “Edit Profile” section, uncheck “Similar Account Suggestions” to stop this feature.
Keep your account private
If your purpose for using Instagram is to follow your favorite people and interests and connect with your friends and family, then having a public profile is probably not that important. You can increase your privacy by going private with your account. This will allow you to keep your content to the people who are within your circles. To change your account to private, go to the Settings and select “Privacy and Security.” In the “Account Privacy” section switch to “Private Account.”
Be careful with how you share
The content you share on Instagram can tell a lot about your life. It’s common for people to tag everyone who’s in the picture. The picture or videos may also have a description of the event, including work or home location and even the house number. While having a private account limits exposure, remember that you’re still uploading to a popular social media site that may be targeted by hackers.
Deactivate or remove your account
If you have decided to take a break from Instagram.com, then it’s better to deactivate or delete your account instead of just logging out and deleting the app. Instagram has suffered from data breaches in the past, so keeping your profile means your profile is still searchable. When you decide to deactivate your account, your photos and feed won’t be deleted but nobody will be able to search your profile. So, if you plan on returning to the platform after a while, then deactivation is the better option.
Make account access difficult
Instagram allows you to add an extra layer of security with two- factor authentication (2FA). Suppose someone has access to your device or knows your password. This information won’t be useful to them if they have to pass another authentication to access after they enter your password. Instagram allows you to set up 2FA through text messages or an independent app.
Control access to third-party apps
If you have installed an app to help you manage your account or for any other reason, that app will likely require access to your data. If you no longer need an app or want to see which apps have access to your data, you can control access from the “Authorized Apps” section. From the “Settings” click on “Authorized Apps” to see all the apps that have access to your account. To stop access, use the “Revoke Access” option for that app and select “Yes.”
Instagram is one of the most widely used image-sharing apps. Along with the great features, you also have to consider how you will keep your information secure online. You should start by making it difficult for people to access your account and for unwanted people to find you on the app. Another thing you can do is to limit what information you provide with each photo or video. It’s also worthwhile checking your login data so you know about any unusual activity. Finally, if you decide to leave the platform, make sure you do it properly by deactivating or deleting your account.