How To View a Private Instagram Account
As social media becomes more and more important in our daily lives, the creators of the platforms have come to realize the essential nature of security in preserving the users’ trust.
The users want to know that the system won’t sell them out – or at least, not sell them out too much. Instagram, one of the most popular of the current social media platforms, created a full set of policy protections in their software to keep information away from unwanted visitors.
A private Instagram page means only those who you accept can follow and view your content. Many users prefer to keep that content secure and Instagram obliges.
But what if you want to view a private Instagram account? Or you want to ensure no one is viewing your private account without your knowledge? Let’s view how to make your Instagram profile private, and how people can view private accounts.
How to Make Your Instagram Account Private
If you’d like to make your Instagram account private, follow these instructions:
Start by opening the app, either from your home screen (iOS) or your app drawer (Android). The app will open up on the homepage for Instagram, showing a collection of posts and shares from your followed friends.
Along the bottom of the app, you’ll find five icons for adding photos, viewing posts, and more. Tap on the profile icon at the bottom of the tab. You will see a very small version of your profile picture.
From this display, you’ll see a few icons along the top of your screen. In the top right corner click on the three vertical lines. From here you can tap on ‘Settings’.
There are several privacy options available such as two-factor authentication and blocking users. Locate ‘Privacy’ and tap on it. Scroll down to the ‘Connections’ heading and tap on ‘Account Privacy’.
Toggle the switch so that it turns blue. A pop-up will appear asking you to review your followers. If there are any you’d like to remove, you can do so from this page.
If at any time you want to make your account public once more, follow the steps above and flip the switch for private accounts off. You can do this as many times as you’d like without any repercussions—remember that any posts you shared while your account was private will become public as soon as you flip that switch off.
Can I See a Private Instagram Account?
Technically yes, there are multiple ways to view a private Instagram account.
- The Legitimate Way – Asking the person with the private account to accept your friend request.
- Searching Username/Real name – This is if you want to know some information about them without asking to have access to their Instagram account.
- Use Third-Party Apps – We don’t recommend this method. None of them seem to work, and they all seem to be associated with money laundering schemes or scams.
- Pretend to be Someone You Aren’t – Read on for advice on this method.
Below is a more in-depth look at how to use each method to your advantage.
How to View a Private Instagram Account
The Legitimate Way
If you wish to view a private Instagram account, the easiest—and most legitimate—way is to request to follow that person. Typically, even a person with a protected profile will approve people they know, so if this is someone you’re acquainted with, you shouldn’t have any problems getting your request approved.
If the other person accepts it you’ll be able to see that person’s profile and view any photos they’ve uploaded to Instagram.
This method is the most straightforward way to access and view a person’s private Instagram account, no matter who they are. Unfortunately, this does depend heavily on you, as an Instagram user, having a pre-existing relationship with the person.
If you’re trying to add someone you don’t know, like a celebrity or a friend of a friend, the easiest way to reach out to them is via Instagram’s direct messaging. Sending the user a direct message, a DM, will let them know a bit about who’s requesting to follow them. The best way to do this is to tell the requested user who you are, a bit about yourself, and why you want to follow them on Instagram.
Saying as much as “I’m a high school friend of your boyfriend” or “We met at your cousin’s birthday party” can be enough to create a connection between you and your target.
Many Instagram users will welcome new friends, especially since they can block or remove you if things get rough. Just remember to keep an eye on what you post and what that person posts.
Try Searching Their Username and Real Name
This is a quick tip and, ultimately, it might not get you far in your quest to find out some information on your Insta-crush or your old high school friends, but it’s worth a shot regardless.
Log into Instagram and look for the profile you wish to research online. When you locate the account, you’ll be able to see the username of your target. Highlight that name and copy it to your device’s clipboard, because we’re going to be using that name in a moment.
Paste that username into Google or whichever search engine you prefer to use. You can also take a photo that you know is theirs and put it into a reverse image search to see if they have used it on a different, maybe not as protected, social media site.
You can follow a similar strategy using the real names of non-celebrities. All in all, this may not end up gaining you access to a full Instagram account. If you’re looking for some additional photos of a specific person on Instagram, use their login ID to find photos of them posted on other sites. That’s an easy way to bypass Instagram’s own privacy protection—even if it’s only temporary.
Using Instagram Viewer Sites
Searching Google for methods to view private Instagram profiles will bring up endless results of solutions and guides but It will also refer you to several websites with suspicious names that advertise the ability to view private profiles in just a few easy steps.
These sites have names like “WatchInsta,” “Instaspy,” and “Private Instaviewer,” and they all seem to promise the same general idea: use their website to gain access to Instagram accounts marked as private without any extra steps, payments, or requirements. Some of them even promise complete anonymity or have chatrooms where you can discuss the app with other users.
Unfortunately, after testing a few of the results from the first page or two of search results through Google, we absolutely do not recommend using these sites. They come from shady backgrounds at best, typically obscuring the name of the company behind the site. Despite the promise of “free” results, they often ask you to fill out a survey or sweepstakes that requires a credit card or other form of payment to complete.
Some of the sites also seem connected, displaying one name but then showing another site’s name when the survey request loads. We can’t suggest you use any of these sites when their backgrounds are unclear, or if they hide their origin on their website. Stay clear of these sites; they’re nothing but trouble for your account and overall internet safety.
If you’ve tried adding the person on Instagram with a friendly message and still can’t gain access to their account, there’s always one option left, though it’s challenging to recommend that to users as well: fake accounts. Let’s take a look.
Instagram takes claims of identity theft (using someone else’s real name and impersonating them on the service) to be a significant violation, and they will go after duplicators. In a bit, we’ll get to why that’s important, and how to get around it.
If you do choose to create a fake ID, here are some ways to get more accepted by a private Instagram account holder.
- Select a female profile picture for your fake account. This comes across as more friendly and safe. Choosing to use a female identity on Instagram makes the account feel less predatory than a male account, though it’s evident that this can create problems on its own.
- Add real photos to your fake Instagram account. You could also make your phony Instagram ID a private account, as well.
- If the private Instagram account you want to follow doesn’t approve your request to follow them, send a DM to that person. Explain that you’d like to follow them on Instagram and your reasons. You could theoretically do this in or out of character
The Less-than-Legitimate Way
There are several different methods of gaining access to a private Instagram profile, using techniques of social engineering and deception.
We do not recommend these methods. They are unethical under most circumstances, and quite possibly illegal under others, but it depends more on intent. There are some subtleties, but if you’re pretending to be someone else online, that is similar to committing fraud.
The Lazy Way
The laziest method of gaining access to a private profile that you cannot see is for you to create a new Instagram profile with a new e-mail address, a fake name, and have that account submit a membership application to a mutually privately held group.
Instagram spammers use this technique regularly, churning out the output from realistic name generators for hours and assigning names to everyone in their fictitious empires. Every device (smartphone or tablet) can have up to five separate terminals hooked up to it, so unless you’ve been creating fake accounts already, you have options to add accounts.
Once you have the new account (it will need its own unique e-mail address, but Google Mail makes that trivially easy), just submit a request to the private account you want to follow.
You can send a DM first to break the ice and warn the owner of the private account that a new person is coming in. If they deny access to the account for a trivial reason or specific to you, then the signup should be approved if they don’t suspect that this is a patsy account of yours.
The lazy way is easy. It’s also not going to work very often. If an account has private registration, it’s probably for a good reason. What do we do then?
The Trojan Horse
The Trojan Horse takes the same basic idea, but it goes to the trouble of creating a fake profile that looks “right” to the owner of the private Instagram account we want to follow. For example, say that a popular game streamer had a private Instagram account where she shared only the very elite secrets of the particular game.
If you or I try to gain access to this group with our Instagram account, we likely won’t be successful. Instead, you want to create a fake account that nonetheless looks very real. For our gaming account, we would upload lots of skilled playthrough videos and Instagram posts, bemoaning or praising certain events in the world of game design. And so on.
By investing a bit more time and energy into the fake, creating a line of posts and pictures, complete with a comments section, we give a much stronger impression of being a real person who wasn’t a fraud.
People unfollow and refollow all the time; seeing their friend’s account in a follow request is often successful.
So how do we manage to get their friend’s account? The answer is that we don’t – but we fake it. There are two big problems with creating a “duplicate” account.
One, it’s one of the big crimes that Instagram actually bestirs itself to do something about. Two, we don’t know who the duplicate accounts are! Private accounts don’t show their followers list when you browse them – so there’s no way to know who follows them. Or is there?
Directly, no. Instagram keeps things too secure for that. But Instagram is not the only place that your private account person has a presence. That Instagram private account almost certainly has a parallel life over on Facebook.
It may be on Tik Tok too, and Pinterest and Etsy and… the list goes on. Find the social media site with the sloppier security and most online content; almost nobody has perfect security everywhere.
Using other social media sites, find out who they interact with the most on social media. Get the names and usernames of people who are involved in the same groups or interest, because those are the people who are also following your interest on Instagram.
Now create a profile or two for these doppelgangers. You won’t be able to use the same username – but you can use one that’s very close. Use accent characters, substituting 0 for O, and so on. You can even borrow some photographs from the other social media site to use as your avatar.
Odds are good that these changes are going to slide by your target. Note that this is a serious rules violation and you could lose your Instagram account access altogether. One way to prevent that is to take advantage of a loophole in the Instagram rules.
It is forbidden to copy a person’s account and impersonate them – and the only person who can complain about this is the person themselves. In order to prove that they are the original user, they have to show proper state-issued ID.
The key to this is that most people don’t use their full real name, so they can’t prove who they are. Once you’ve been approved to the group, change the username and photos.
The doppelganger, done correctly, is almost certain to get you into the private account you want to access. Use it wisely.