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Tips for using Instagram safely

Instagram is popular. However, public profile settings in particular have their pitfalls. We explain some useful tips for Instagram geeks and casual users.

For a certain peer group, Instagram has become something of a figurehead - yes, a business card. If you scroll through a typical Instagram feed, you will quickly notice that many of the pictures look very attractive - be it the picturesque landscape or the perfectly lit selfie, which is partly artistic thanks to filters.

Celebrities set the pace and flood the Instagram news feed with envious, perfect photos. This increases the pressure on the followers. They too want to present themselves as well as possible.

Of course, in many ways life is not as ideal as the Instagram posts try to prove to us. Some young adults are now a little tired of the perfect representations and so they create fake Instagram accounts. Paradoxically, the so-called private Finstergram accounts are much closer to reality than the supposedly "real" public ones.

However, Instagram has many other hurdles to overcome. Therefore, this post deals with privacy and security on Instagram. Below are some useful tips for Instagram geeks and casual users.

Instagram privacy and security tips

Do not add mobile number to profile

When editing the Instagram profile, you have the option of entering your telephone number in the "Private information" section. Here, less is more.

Figure 1: Excerpt from Instagram privacy policy

In the Instagram privacy policy it is written that even if the phone number is marked as private, the user can be found in the Instagram network through it.

Your own Instagram account can therefore be found by anyone who knows the associated telephone number. If you don't reveal your phone number, you can get around this.

However, you need the phone number for 2-factor authentication - more on that later.

Figure 2: Screenshot app Instagram - edit profile

The private Instagram profile

Every Instagram user can decide whether the profile is public or private. Then only accepted other users (family, friends or good acquaintances) have access to the content - photos, videos and profile information.

If you want to set your Instagram profile to private, navigate to your profile and click on the icon in the upper right corner. The "Settings" button now appears at the bottom of the screen.

Figure 3: Screenshot Instagram app - switch Instagram account to private

Unlike Facebook, this setting works on the all-or-nothing principle. So far, there are no settings that can at least set individual posts to private for a public profile and vice versa.

Instagram itself makes photos and videos invisible to search engines. Using an API, however, it was previously possible for third-party services such as to post one-to-one copies of public Instagram profiles on the Internet - this means that Instagram photos also appear in the Google image search.

Every user should always bear in mind that everything that is posted online - be it through a website or an app - is not one hundred percent private.

As soon as a service has been hacked or your own account or that of a friend has been compromised, data - previously private data - can become public. The internet rarely forgets anything. That is why the principle applies: “Never post something that could be regretted later” - no matter how private the social media account seems to be.

Geotagging in Instagram photos

This feature can serve as a great reminder for great snapshots. As with other services, geotagging on Instagram is a double-edged sword. The function enables precise posting of whereabouts and time.

There are scenarios in which Instagram users leave one last post in front of their home and then go on vacation. In doing so, they signal to burglars that nobody will be at home for a long period of time. If other social media accounts are also linked to the Instagram account, the risk increases.

Figure 4: Screenshot app Instagram - geotagging is dangerous

Link Instagram to other social media accounts

Social media geeks know them all - Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, ... Instagram offers the option of linking. Instagram posts can then be placed on the other social media accounts with just one click.

If you want to use this option, you should first consider whether the privacy settings of the other social media accounts match those of Instagram. We recommend double-checking all privacy and security settings.

Figure 5: Screenshot app Instagram - link to other social media accounts

Dubious Instagram profile links

Instagram is actually not known for linking to other (external) content. In the profile view, however, there is the option of entering a link. For example, many company profiles link to a new product.

But there are also dubious profiles that promise thousands of new followers. One should only follow the link in the profile. We advise against it. In all likelihood, this is a spam link.

Turn off Instagram comment function

Social media networks also offer a platform for so-called trolls and hate speech. Cyber ​​bullying and cyberbullying are unfortunately the order of the day for many of those affected. There are many useful sources on the Internet, such as websites such as Klicksafe, cybermobbing-hilfe or the Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth. They offer free help and put people in touch with advice centers.

We do not recommend going into defamation. Instagram offers two functions to prevent hate speech and trolling. On the one hand, comments for posts can be switched off. To do this, navigate to the advanced settings in the Instagram app while creating a post and deactivate the comments there.

Figure 6: Instagram app screenshot - deactivate comments for post

Ultimately, Instagram profiles used for cyberbullying can also be blocked and reported. To do this, click on the in the relevant profile three points top right (iPhone = gear) and choose To block or. Report… . You can get an overview of all previously blocked Instagram profiles via: Settings > Privacy and security > Blocked accounts.

Figure 7: Screenshot Instagram app - report or block account

Use Instagram 2-factor authentication

This security feature prevents unauthorized access to the Instagram account. If two-step authentication is activated, an additional authentication factor is required in addition to the user name and password when logging in with an unknown device - your own smartphone forms this additional factor. If someone else has the login data, they still cannot access the account because they do not have access to the linked smartphone. On the Instagram help page, users can find out in detail how to set up 2-factor authentication.

We recommend activating the additional security feature - this also applies to other social media accounts.