Instagram is a free social networking video/photo sharing service created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. Since then it has been acquired and further developed by Facebook. It’s also one of the most widely used social media apps with over one billion active users worldwide.
Aside from its built-in photo and video filters, Instagram is known for its hashtags and geographical tagging. Currently, this popular platform has a store rating of 4.8 in App Store and 4.1 in Google Play. It’s accessible from iPhones, iPads, Android phones, and any internet-enabled device run by Fire OS and Microsoft Windows.
Instagram allows people from across the globe to freely and instantly share photos or videos, and send direct messages. By default, Instagram accounts are set to be accessible by the public. However, the social media app offers its users the option to set their accounts to private as well.
Since its acquisition by Facebook, Inc., the app was significantly enhanced and redesigned. Its interface has been made more flat and minimalistic, and its algorithms and technologies were switched to utilize Facebook Places.
There have also been many additional features added to the platform. Such as comment liking, comment switch, slideshow banners, IGTV, Co-Watching, Reels, and Vertical Stories. Along with new child safety policies and user security & privacy settings.
6 Dangers Lurking On Instagram
Instagram as a platform has various safety nets, privacy settings, and security guidelines. It can be considered a safe app, fostering a positive environment even for teens. Like any other third-party app or social networking site, however, Instagram could still be vulnerable to certain dangers. Here are some of the common threats to look out for when using Instagram.
- Account Hacking
Like most third-party apps offering social networking services, one of the biggest threats when using Instagram is hacking. Posers and hackers create fake accounts for the sole purpose of luring victims or enacting their malicious intentions.
Unattended or inactive accounts, as well as apps that aren’t religiously updated, are more likely to contain security loopholes. These unpatched vulnerabilities could serve as gateways for bad actors to penetrate your account and device.
- Inappropriate Content
While users can report inappropriate or offensive content shared by others, not all malicious photos, videos, or posts are taken down by Instagram administrators and moderators. Hence, there’s always the possibility users, especially younger ones, get exposed to such inappropriate content.
Intentionally or unintentionally, some posts and comments could be discriminating or offensive. After all, Instagram enables anyone to express whatever they feel or think through photos and videos. Something acceptable for one person could be inappropriate for another.
Cyberbullying, however, is another story. This intentional or specific attack is usually perpetrated by haters, bashers, or online trolls. This is something to look out for on Instagram, especially for younger users.
- Romance Scams
Though not specifically a dating app, some catfishers utilize Instagram for more low-key targeting. They will usually set up an enticing profile with attractive photos and an interesting bio. Then they search for victims, constantly heart-reacting to their posts and comments. Posting positive reactions to catch their attention. Once a connection is established, they’ll start working on the romance scam itself.
- Comparison Trap
Instagram is known for its unique and mesmerizing photos and videos. Sometimes when something’s so good — like a place, food plating, or an outfit — you’d hear the expression “Wow, Instagrammable!”
Possibly due to luxurious filters or well-thought-of shots, users still fall victim to the so-called comparison trap. This is a danger especially to kids or adults with low self-esteem.
With its attractive features and the availability of amazing feeds, Instagram can surely be addicting. Like most social media apps, Instagram users tend to lose track of time when scrolling. Plus, well-known personalities and famous pages usually post content that is equally interesting and time-consuming.
Tips For A Safer Instagram Experience
Just because certain dangers are lurking on Instagram doesn’t mean you must stop using this social networking platform. We understand Instagram has become a useful app for personal and business purposes. This is why to help ensure your safety, security, and privacy while using Instagram, here are some tips.
- Login Credentials
Set a strong and unique password and be sure to update it regularly. Make sure you don’t share it with anyone as well. It’s also advisable to enable two-factor authentication. Or add an extra layer of identification, like one-time text message codes.
Passwords are a great first line of defense. While hackers always seem to find ways to bypass passwords, they could potentially delay the attack. Especially if the password is strong enough or if there are multiple.
- Privacy Settings
By default, Instagram accounts are public, meaning anyone from the entire community can easily locate and contact you. By switching your public account to private, you gain full control over who sees your content and who gets to message you directly.
To set a private account, first, navigate to your profile page by clicking on your profile picture. Next, tap on the Settings or Gear icon then toggle on the Private Account button. Once enabled, each follow request in the future will need to be approved.
- Security and Parental Controls
Instagram offers a myriad of security and parental controls so be sure to utilize all these. Some of these are comments filter, user blocking, reporting abusive users and inappropriate content, and unfollowing accounts or pages.
Before you post, tap Advanced Settings to turn off commenting. You could also, always, delete unwanted comments by swiping left and tapping the Trash icon.
If you find any content abusive, inappropriate, or harassing, simply swipe left and tap on the Arrow button or the “…” menu and click Report or Block User. Otherwise, alert Instagram of any suspicious or malicious user through Instagram’s Help Center.
- Location Sharing and Data Sharing to Third-Party Apps
Instagram has a geotagging feature that enables the user’s location to be made publicly available. It’s recommended you turn this off unless you specifically need this feature.
Instagram posts can also be instantly linked to third-party sites. When sharing app data, keep in mind the content will be made available to you based on your account settings. For example, even if your IG account is private, when you share it on your public Twitter account, the post can be accessed by anyone.
- Monitoring Software and Antivirus Program
An antivirus program is a must-have tool regardless of device type or version. Such software automatically and regularly scans for threats. Should anything be identified, the program instantly locks and isolates it until fixed.
Another must-have security tool, especially for parents and employers. Efficient monitoring software provides remote real-time access to Instagram activities. As well as other engagements within the target device, making it easier to identify and address issues. This tool can also set a screen time limit to help regulate the amount of time your kids or employees spend on the app.
- Other Precautionary Measures
Above all, always proceed with extreme caution when using Instagram. Whether you’re posting portraits or selfies to sending direct messages and following accounts or pages. Also, always be mindful of your comments, especially on public posts. And avoid sharing personal and sensitive information in your bio.
Frequently Asked Questions About Instagram Safety
Instagram accounts set to private are much safer. As only people you’ve personally selected can see your content and message you directly. With this feature, you’ll prevent re-sharing of your posts and stories, as well as avoid hateful or bullying comments.
Like any third-party social media app, Instagram is susceptible to various cyber threats, including hacking, cyberbullying, phishing, and social engineering. There’s also the risk of being exposed to inappropriate content and falling victim to the so-called comparison trap. Then, though not specifically a dating app, romance scams are also widespread in IG. Moreover, due to its amazing feeds and exciting features, Instagram could be addictive.
If you only log in to the legit app or site, you’re far less likely to encounter a virus. To make the platform safe for kids and adults alike, avoid clicking links and downloading files from unknown sources.
Instagram’s direct messaging (DM) doesn’t support end-to-end encryption. This means any data or information sent over their chat service could be accessed by third parties.