My Instagram profile probably reveals more personal information about me than any other social networking site. As a result, I began to get scratched after I realized how many people were following me that I didn't really know.
Locking down your privacy on Instagram can be as easy as setting your profile to "private". But you can get a lot more granular than that, and there are a number of other protections you can put in place. You can keep your account public but do it a little more protected, or even add more protection than simply browsing the private profile switch gives you.
If you really want to keep your account secure, here's what you can do.  Set your account to private
Setting your account to private is the easiest thing you can do to lock your profile. This means that no one can see your photos or stories in the future unless you approve them.
When your account is private, new people who visit your profile will only see your name and profile picture. From there, they can request to follow you, and you must confirm their request before they can see your photos or stories.
To set your account to private:
- Go to Instagram's settings menu. It's hidden on your profile page behind the hamburger button in the upper right corner. It opens a page menu with several choices; you can access your settings from the rack shown at the bottom.
- From there, go to "Privacy"> "Account Personality" and enable the "Private Account" setting.
An important warning: anyone who has already followed you when you change your account to private will still follow you. This means that if there is someone you want to deny access to, you must remove them from your watchlist.
To remove someone who follows you:
- Go to your profile and press your number of followers
- Scroll through your list and press the big "Remove" button next to the name of everyone you want to become by
Protect Your Stories
Instagram lets you limit who sees your stories (the roll of photos that disappear after 24 hours) and prevent people from sharing them even more.
To hide your story from specific people:
- Go to "Settings"> "Privacy"> "Story"
- Select "Hide story from." It opens a list of your followers. Click the circle next to their name to turn off access.
You can also prevent people from sharing your story:
- Go to the same page ("Settings"> "Privacy"> "Story"). Scroll down to the bottom where there is a section called "Sharing."
- You see an option that says "Allow sharing." Turning this off will prevent people from sending messages to your others.
- You can also turn off "Allow to reshare stories" to prevent people from adding your posts to their stories. , disable "Share your story to Facebook." This means that they will only post on Instagram.
Finally, you can use Instagram's Close Friends feature to limit the reach of your stories to specific people.
- To set who is in that group of people, go to "Settings"> "Privacy"> "Story"
- Click Close friends and start adding people. People will not be notified when they are added (or removed) from this group.
Block people from seeing your feed
When it comes to protecting photos and videos published on your feed, it's much more of an all-or-nothing scenario than it is with stories.
If you do not want to go private, you can still block individual users:
- To block someone you must first go to their account. On their profile page, touch the three-dotted menu in the upper right corner.
- Click "Block"
Note! You can also restrict people from this menu. If you restrict them, they can still see your content, but their comments are only visible to you and they can't see when you're online.
Make yourself less visible
There are a few things you can do to make yourself a little harder to find (and give out less information about yourself in the process).
First, you can stop sending your contacts to Instagram. You may have given Instagram access to your contacts from the beginning to help find your friends when you sign up, but that means Instagram knows who's in your phone book. To turn it off:
- Go to "Settings"> "Account"> "Sync contacts"
- Disable "Connect contacts"
You can also prevent Instagram from proposing your account to others. This happens when someone follows a new account: Instagram will then show accounts that they think are "similar" that you can be grouped into. You can't change this with your mobile app. How to turn it off:
- Log in to the Instagram website and go to your profile
- Select the "Edit profile" button
- Uncheck the very last option, "Similar account suggestions"
Finally, it is worth checking to see if any of your Instagram posts come up in a Google search. By default, Instagram doesn't let Google find your photos, but if you've ever logged into a third-party browser (and you may have years before Instagram was available on the Web), the site may be scraping your profile and publishing it for everyone to see.
If one or more of your posts show up in your search, the first step is to get rid of disabling third-party app access to your Instagram account. You can do so on the mobile app:
- Go to "Settings"> "Security"> "Apps and websites"> "Active"
- Remove all apps you no longer use
Protect what people see about you  You can go further down and limit what is in your account visible to others.
One big thing you can do is turn off your activity status so people can't see when you're online. (Note that if you disable this you will not be able to see when other people are online either.)
- Go to "Settings"> "Privacy"> "Activity Status"
- Disable "Show Activity Status"
You may also want to review tagged photos before they are published on your profile. Having a public account can prevent any tag from spamming your profile, and having a private account can prevent your friends from attaching a flickering image on your profile Do this:
- Go to "Settings"> "Privacy"> "Tags"
- Activate "Manually approve tags"
Stop saving your posts and stories
You may not be able to want to save the photos and videos you post on Instagram, especially your disappearing stories. There are a few things you can do to stop it.
To prevent your stories from being saved:
- Go to "Settings" > "Privacy"> "B replacement "
- Turn off two settings. The first is "Save in Camera Roll" (on iOS) or "Save in Gallery" (on Android), which saves your stories on your phone. The other is "Save to Archive", and if you turn it off, Instagram will prevent your stories from hanging up so you can see them later after they disappear.
If you also want to keep your posts on Instagram:
- Go to "Settings"> "Account"> "Original posts"
- Disable all three options (Save original posts, save photos and save videos)  This prevents the posts from being stored locally on your phone, but it also means that your only copy will be on Instagram.
Remove personal ads
Instagram ads are based on websites you visit and apps you use. If you want to stop this, it's a little harder. You actually have to jump to Facebook, which owns Instagram.
To disable ad customization, you must first go to Facebook's ad settings.
- On mobile, in the Facebook app, tap the hamburger menu in the upper right corner, then select "Settings & privacy"> "Settings"> "Ad settings"> "Ad settings"
- On the web, just click here for to go to the "Your Ads Settings" page and then click on "Ads Settings" to reveal your options.
- You want to turn off the two best options: "Ads based on partner data" and "Ads based on your activity on Facebook business products that you see elsewhere." This will prevent Facebook from targeting you based on information it receives outside of Instagram.
Vox Media has affiliated partnerships. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy .