by David Balaban

 

It’s easy to assume that just because you join a very public social media site like Instagram, you have to give up any hope of privacy at the same time. However, this and other platforms have evolved to give users options when it comes to how much information they share with others.

Sometimes, however, these options aren’t that obvious, and you need some helpful hints to guide you. In this post, we provide tips to help ensure your Instagram stays as private and secure as possible.

1. Adjust privacy settings

Instagram offers users an increasing amount of control regarding who sees what information, but your privacy isn’t usually locked down by default. For example, when you sign up, your account is public unless you change your settings, meaning every Instagram user out there can view everything you post.

Some of the main things you may want to consider doing before you post are:

Making your account private: This means that only people you approve will be able to view your Instagram photos and videos.
Turning off your status: This boosts privacy as no one will know when you’re online or away.
Turning off story sharing: This prevents others from being able to share your stories as messages.

All of these actions can be undertaken in the Privacy and Security section of the settings screen (accessible via the gear icon from your home screen). Some settings are not visible in the mobile version of the app, so we recommend you make adjustments on the desktop browser version at instagram.com.

It’s a good idea to make a habit of regularly checking privacy settings for all social media accounts, and revisiting your privacy settings after installing new updates.

2. Use common sense
Even if you’ve adjusted your privacy settings, you never know who could be viewing your information, for example, through a friend’s account or via a malicious hack. As such, it’s best to refrain from posting any information you wouldn’t want to go public. This includes personal data such as your full name, address, phone number, social security number, bank details, passport number, and medical information.

This may all sound obvious, but it’s surprising how many people think nothing of posting images of government-issued IDs, tax documents, flight boarding passes, voting slips, and other documents that reveal private information. You should also remove metadata (including date and location) from the photos you upload as this could be used to find out details about where you live, work, go to school, bank, and more.

3. Block suspicious users

If there is someone who you want to make sure never sees any of you details or posts, then you can use the Instagram “Block” feature. This will prevent the person from finding your name in a search and seeing or commenting on your images and videos.

To block an account, visit the account, click the three dots next to your username, and select Block.

Instagram recently introduced a feature that enables you to find out more information about certain accounts, such as the date the account was created and the country the user is located in.

4. Take advantage of two-factor authentication

Instagram gives users the option to use two-factor authentication. This adds an extra layer of security to your account by requiring more than just your username and password when you log in from an unrecognized device.

The option to enable two-factor authentication can be found under Privacy and Security, towards the bottom of the screen. Select Enable Two-Factor Authentication and check Require Security Code.

Once enabled, each time you log in, you’ll also have to enter a security code that will be sent to you at the time via text message.

In addition to this feature, Instagram recently announced that it will support third-party two-factor authentication apps, such as DUO Mobile and Google Authenticator.

5. Be wary about granting access to third-party apps

There are a plethora of apps available for Instagram that can help to enhance the user experience. However, not all of the developers of these apps can be trusted with your privacy and information security.

It’s prudent to check an app’s privacy policy and be wary of the types of permissions an app requests, for example, microphone access.

You can check which apps have access to your Instagram account in the desktop browser version of Instagram by going to your settings screen and selecting Authorized Applications.

6. Use a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts all of your internet traffic so that it’s unreadable to any snoopers, including malicious hackers. This is especially helpful when you want to log in to Instagram while using public wifi. Fraudsters are known to lie in wait on unsecured wifi networks and attempt to steal login credentials and personal information.

A bonus of a VPN is it spoofs your location so you can use it to access Instagram in regions where it’s normally blocked, such as in China.

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