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.