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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

How to Limit Who Can Contact You on Instagram

Over time, Instagram has grown from a photo-sharing platform to a one-stop social network—complete with Snapchat-style Stories, Tik Tok-style Reels, and of course direct messaging.

Having DMs inside Instagram provides a convenient way to chat with friends and family, but it also means that just about anyone can get in touch with you. If you don't want that to happen, there are ways to control it.

That extends to comments and likes left on your feed too—there are more settings than you might realize when it comes to managing who is allowed to contact you on Instagram and how they can go about it.

Choose: Public or Private

If your Instagram account is public, anyone on the platform can see your posts and your stories (unless the stories are to close friends only), and anyone can message you directly. Anyone can like and comment on the photos and videos in your feed, whether or not they're currently following you.

Switch to a private account and your visibility on Instagram is much more limited. New followers must be specifically approved by you—and only followers are able to see the photos, videos, and stories that you're posting. Only followers can like and comment on the posts you put up.

In terms of direct messaging though, nothing really changes: Private profiles, with their account name and profile pictures, can still be found in search. As long as someone else knows the name of your Instagram account, they're able to send a message to it, whether your account is public or private (and whether or not you're following them).

To switch between a public or private account in the Instagram app, tap your account icon (bottom right), then the menu button (top right). Choose Settings and Privacy, and you'll see there's a Private account toggle switch up at the top of the menu—use this to change the status of your account.

Protect Your DMs

Open up your messages in the Instagram app on mobile—the paper airplane icon in the top right corner—and you'll see messages that have come in from people you're following or whom you've added to your close friends list. Messages from other people on Instagram appear under the Requests tab.

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Switch to this tab to see incoming messages from people you're not necessarily connected with. You have three options: Accept the message (future messages from this person will go straight to your main inbox), Delete the message, or Block the user and delete the message too—we'll explain more about blocking in a moment.

That's the default way that messages sent to your inbox are handled. To change it, open up the Settings screen inside the Instagram app again, then pick Privacy and Messages. You can decide if messages from people you're not following go to the Requests tab or just don't show up at all—and the setting can be different based on whether the user in question follows you or not.

The other setting on the same screen controls whether or not you can be added to group chats on Instagram by users you're not connected with. By default, anyone on Instagram can add you to a group chat, but you can change this to be only the people you're currently following.

Restrict Comments and Mentions

Instagram gives you some control over who can comment on and like the photos and videos you post to your feed. From Settings, pick Privacy and Comments, and you can decide who's allowed to comment on your stuff: Everyone, people you follow, people who follow you, or people you either follow or who follow you. You can also block specific users from leaving comments.

There's a similar set of options under Mentions on the Privacy menu. Mentions on Instagram (the @ symbol followed by your name) can either be left by Everyone, People you follow, or No one depending on the setting you specify here. Mentions can be left in stories, comments, live videos, and captions.

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What you don't get on Instagram is any way of blocking someone from liking your posts—it's something you just have to live with, unless you block the user completely. However you can hide the likes on your posts from other people. When you create a post, tap Advanced settings on the final screen before uploading, then turn on the Hide like and view counts on this post toggle switch.

Finally, you can choose Limits from the Privacy menu to put a temporary block on unwanted comments and messages from certain groups—specifically, people who aren't following you or who have recently started to follow you. Instagram says this is to help users avoid harassment, and the block can be put in place for up to four weeks.

Block and Restrict Users

If there are specific users on Instagram whom you'd rather not hear from, you can block them or restrict them. The easiest way to find these options is to go to the profile of an individual, tap the three dots (top right), then choose Restrict or Block. These same options are available in other parts of the Instagram interface too.

If you restrict another user, they won't be able to see when you're online or whether or not you've read their messages. New comments they leave on your posts will only be visible to you, and must be manually approved before they'll be visible to anyone else. You won't receive any notifications for comments from the user, either.

Blocking takes everything a step further. Blocked users can't mention you, tag you, or leave likes and comments on your posts. (Any existing likes and comments will be removed.) They won't be able to message you, or vice versa, though any previous chats will stay in your inbox unless you delete them. While users won't be notified if you restrict or block them, they might well notice they can't get in touch with you anymore.

There is a mute option too for people you're following. From their profile, tap Following, then Mute: You can stop their posts or stories (or both) from showing up in your various feeds, so it's perfect for someone who shares more content than you can keep up with but whom you don't want to disconnect from.


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