Does Instagram Notify the Other Person If You Take a Screenshot of a DM?

New technology has totally changed social norms, expectations, and even the way people communicate. Before the rise of telephones, mobile phones, and the internet, talking to someone actually meant meeting with them face-to-face. But that has since changed.

Today, someone who just appears on your doorstep would be considered rude – one texts first unless it is an absolute emergency. Nowadays, online communications via apps and social media platforms are evolving at an even faster pace than other forms of communication tech, a process that is driven by changing technology and changing social acceptance of how things are done.

When Internet-based communication was first developed, one of the underlying principles was that what you put up on the Internet would stay there, or somewhere, forever. E-mails get stored in databases, your posts on a site like Reddit or Facebook stay there forever, and even when there are tools to delete our old content, a plethora of Internet archives and backup sites make accessing what we said “back in the day” easy.

Keeping Social Media Conversations Private

Online safety and privacy have been constant issues with modern technology. Even our private conversations are subject to being archived; when we send personal messages, photos, or videos, there is a chance that the person on the other end will keep them. Accordingly, many of us try to be more careful in online conversations than offline ones. The fact is that there are many messages or files that we may want to send or share, but that we do not want to have as a part of the eternal archive of our lives.

There have arisen entire social media platforms based around the idea of transient communications as a result of flaring concern for privacy. Apps like Snapchat were based on the principle that all messages, pictures, and videos would self-destruct after being seen by the recipient. Other platforms, while not going to the same extreme, also accommodate the desire for privacy by offering temporary message, or photo sharing. These services offer messages that self-delete after a certain (short) period of time, or after being read or accessed a given number of times.

Are Instagram Conversations Private?

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Instagram, the world’s leading photo and video sharing platform, has also implemented a form of this mechanism. On Instagram, you can send direct messages to other users that include live photos or videos, and you can specify that those photographs and videos can be played only once or twice before they self-destruct.

However, the nature of smartphones and computers, both of which can be used to access Instagram, is such that taking a screenshot of your phone or computer display is a trivially simple task. Just a click of the power button + the volume down button on Android, the side button + the home button on iOS, or ctrl-alt-print screen in Windows, and that quick snap is eternal. This can completely undermine the whole idea of a self-destructing picture. This leads to the question – if someone takes a screenshot of an Instagram photo, video, DM, or post, does Instagram inform the other user?

This article will answer this question.

Screenshots and Direct Messaging on Instagram

Instagram users can send each other text messages, photos, or videos using the direct message (DM) function of the app. The DM menu is accessed via the little paper-airplane in the upper-right corner of the screen. A direct message in Instagram can have one of many different message types: plain text (like a standard SMS text message), text with a graphical background, recorded sound, a photo or video from the gallery, a GIF file or sticker from the built-in library, a quick reply (pre-entered text to make handling large quantities of standardized messages easy), and hearts (a simple graphic of a red heart), or a live (freshly-taken) photo or video.

Most types of DMs sent via Instagram are permanent DMs. They stay in the recipient’s inbox forever, until the recipient deletes them or Instagram’s servers disintegrate in the far far future. However, messages sent containing a live photo or video can be designated as “disappearing” messages. This means that the photograph or video can be viewed once before it becomes inaccessible, or can be viewed twice before it becomes inaccessible, or they can be permanent.

You Don’t Get Notified If Someone Screenshots Most Instagram Content

For normal DMs of any sort, as well as snapshots and video posts and stories, the recipient or the sender can take screenshots of the message or the image or a frame of the video, and Instagram does not take notice that anything was done. This permanent content can be archived freely by any participant in the conversation, and Instagram doesn’t inform you if that happened. Text messages can also be copied to the clipboard without any notification.

Does It Notify When You Unsend A Message On Instagram?

On Instagram, you do have the option to Unsend a DM at any point, even after the recipient has read it. If your recipient has already made a screenshot, though, the damage is done. Even though you decide to delete a message, if the receiver has already read it or taken a screenshot of it, it’s likely too late.

To Unsend a message, tap and hold on it, then select the Unsend option when it appears. It’s important to note, however, that unsending a message will briefly notify the other person that they had a message when they next check Instagram. It won’t show which message you unsent or notify them outside of the app (only when they check the app) but they will know that it was you who unsent the message.

It’s still the best way to get rid of a message you no longer want to have sent to the other person, just be aware that they’ll know you deleted something.

You Do Get Notified If Someone Screenshots Your Disappearing DM – Theoretically

If one party in a conversation screenshots a disappearing DM using the system method for taking a screenshot (pressing the side button and volume up buttons on iOS, or simultaneously holding down the power and volume down keys on Android) then the other party will receive a notification. Look for a circular “starburst” icon next to the DM you sent, and a popup notification on the DM screen of the recipient that lasts for about two seconds before fading out.

However, this doesn’t seem to be a completely fool-proof notification system. In October 2019, TechJunkie staff attempted a series of experiments to track the reliability of the screenshot notification. About one time in five, the app would catch what it should have been catching every time.  That’s not to say that this process won’t tighten up in releases after October 2019- after all, apps are always working to develop better content to keep the masses using their products!

But what do you learn about screenshots with the notification, other than that your image has been saved somewhere?  Take a look at how the notification process has been designed to work.  In this image, the recipient viewed both disappearing DMs, but only took a screenshot of the second one:

If you tap on the notification icon, you can Unsend your DM. But you can also view its Details.

If you select Details, you’ll find out when the screenshot was taken. You’ll also see who took it, which is useful in knowing how your disappearing photos are actually being used!

Instagram Does Not Send Notifications If Someone Screenshots Your Story

Like the disappearing DMs, Instagram stories are designed to be temporary. When the story function first appeared, anyone was free to screenshot your stories without you knowing about it. In early 2018, Instagram debuted a lockdown feature that prevented other users from taking screenshots of Stories; however, several months later, the feature was pulled and has not appeared since.  This means that people can screenshot, save, and repost pictures from your Story.

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Are Screenshot Notifications Useful?

What are the pros and cons of sending out notifications when someone takes a screenshot of your conversation? Since taking screenshots is a stock function that comes with every smartphone, Instagram can’t block it altogether. However, notifications (and knowing that notifications are sent) tend to discourage the taking of screenshots of temporary messages.

A Final Word

The Internet is not the safest place for communication, even ‘private’ conversations. The general rule is that you should never share anything on the Internet that you wouldn’t say out loud in a court of law, or in front of your grandmother, for good reason. Others prefer to trust the discretion of the person they’re messaging. This usually works out, but unpleasant surprises are still too common.

Having your personal messages made public is always a harrowing experience. But it’s even worse when the messages you sent were in the form of an image or video. Even if you avoid sending anything particularly sensitive, it’s very unpleasant to see your recordings used without your permission. That’s why it is imperative to be mindful of what we do and say online.

One thought on “Does Instagram Notify the Other Person If You Take a Screenshot of a DM?”

Avatar Sam says:
I’ve tested the screenshot on Android between 2 different accounts with the disappearing DMs and I don’t see the star burst you’re referring to. Is it only on iOS?

A friend of mine told me he saw I screen shot one of his photos and I said how, he saw hehe. I don’t see it on my end.

Am I missing something????

Avatar Simran says:
Hey….One of my friend send me the direct video and I doesn’t take any screenshot of same but still he get the notification…Why???…Could you plZ give me the right answer…Is there something wrong with you process or what??

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