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Delete your Instagram account and information permanently

A simple guide detailing how to permanently delete your Instagram account and all related information

Published: October 24, 2021 By Rakesh Naik

Title image for Delete your Instagram account and information permanently showing a large number of Instagram icons lying in a pile

Image source – freepik.com

Instagram is one of the largest social media platforms, that supports sharing of photos, videos, and other media with users of the platform. Released in 2010 by its creators, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the platform was purchased by Facebook in 2012.

Today, with over 500 million daily global users, Instagram is ranked 4th in the list of most popular social media platforms. Over 17% of the world's 7.9 billion total population uses Instagram regularly.

Table showing Instagram usage figures for top 10 countries


Country
Total Population (MM)
Smartphone Owners (MM)
Smartphone Penetration (%)
Instagram Users (MM)
Instagram Penetration (%)
India
1370
346
25.3
80
23.1
USA
329
260
79.1
120
46.2
Indonesia
270
83.9
31.1
63
75.1
Brazil
212
96.9
45.6
77
79.5
Russia
144
95.4
66.3
44
46.1
Mexico
132
65.6
49.5
24
36.6
Japan
127
72.6
57.2
29
39.9
Turkey
83
44.8
54
38
84.8
Germany
82.4
65.9
79.9
21
31.9
United Kingdom
67
55.5
82.9
24
43.2

 Data source – backlinko.com

However, much like its parent company, Instagram has also fallen victim to a lot of data leaks and is involved in a lot of data privacy conspiracies. It is only natural that you, as a private individual, would want to know how to delete your Instagram account permanently!

In this article, let me show you, step by step, just how to delete your Instagram account permanently, and prevent your private information from being leaked.

Delete vs deactivate: Understanding the difference

Instagram deactivate page and delete page shown side by side for comparison

On Instagram, like Facebook, you have two main options if you’re looking to reduce the daily hours you spend using the platform. The simpler of the two, deactivation helps you do this temporarily, with not having to lose any followers or posts.

With a deactivated account, you simply disappear out of Instagram, out of search results and your followers' feed, but only until you log back into your Instagram.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you delete your Instagram account, you can’t recover it and you will have to start from scratch with no followers or posts if you want to re-join the platform.

In this article, I shall be exploring both these methods, but if you are looking to improve your individual privacy, I would advise you to go ahead and delete your Instagram account. Deactivate Instagram only if you want a temporary break from it.

A brief guide to deactivate Instagram

Since the main objective of this article is to help you permanently delete your Instagram account, I shan't be delving deep into the deactivation process. However, given below is a simple, albeit detailed guide to deactivate your Instagram account.

  1. Log in to the Instagram website through a web browser on your computer or a mobile browser (You can't deactivate your account in the Instagram app)
  2. On the top right and of the home page, click on your profile picture and click on the option ‘Profile

Opening the profile page on Instagram opened in a web browser

  1. Now, on your profile page, click the ‘Edit Profile’ option

The edit profile option on the profile page

  1. Scroll down the page, to find the option ‘Temporarily disable my account’ at the bottom and click on it

Scrolling down the edit profile page to find the option to temporarily disable the Instagram account

  1. Now, select an answer for the question ‘Why are you disabling your account?’ and type in your account password
  2. Finally, click on the button ‘Temporarily disable account’ to deactivate your account

Entering the account password to temporarily deactivate the Instagram account

Once deactivated, no one on Instagram would be able to see your profile, not even your followers. All your pictures would be unviewable as well, even if any other user is tagged in it.

However, this doesn't help much if you are looking to keep your information private and saving it from leaks or Instagram misusing it. For this, you will have to delete your Instagram account permanently.

How to delete an Instagram account permanently

Now, we are moving into more serious territory, so proceed only if you are completely sure that you want to permanently delete your Instagram account. If you still have doubts about it, just try temporarily deactivating the account for a few weeks to make sure.

Disclaimer: Using the steps described in the section below will permanently delete your Instagram account which you will not be able to recover after the specified date. Neither I nor the website is responsible for any accidental deletion while testing the below methods.

But before you finally delete your Instagram account, maybe you want to consider saving your Instagram data? Instagram allows you to download all your account data such as posts, likes, comments, and all your activity on the platform.

This helps you keep all the data without having to lose it through a delete, and also lets you see all the data about you held by Instagram. (Or at least what they admit to holding)

Downloading your Instagram data

Saving your account data, before permanently deleting your Instagram account is always a good choice. Besides ensuring the protection of your data, it also ensures that you have a copy of your account data for future use in case of any problems such as ID theft or fraud.

To save all your account details from Instagram, simply follow the below steps.

  1. Open the Instagram app on your device
  2. On the bottom right of the page, click on your profile picture to open your profile page

Accessing profile page in the Instagram app

  1. Now touch the 3 horizontal lines on the top right corner to open the menu and select the ‘Settings’ option in it

Settings option in the Instagram profile page

  1. On the settings page, click on the ‘Security’ option
  2. Now in the bottom part of the security section, choose the option ‘Download data

Download data option in the security settings section of Instagram

  1. Enter the email address that you’d like to receive all your account data on and click on the button ‘Request Download

The button to request download of all Instagram account information

  1. Instagram will now process your request, gather all your account information and send it to your email address within 48 hours of the request

Data download request confirmed and will be processed within 48 hours

Email from Instagram containing link to download account data

Instagram link on web browser to download all account information as given in the received email

You should make sure to keep this account information that you receive safe and most probably within some form of an encrypted folder with a couple of backups.

Delete your Instagram account

Finally, now that you have decided to go ahead with deleting your Instagram account. Permanently deleting your Instagram account is quite straightforward and does not involve any issues. The steps are as below.

  1. First, open a web browser on your computer or mobile device
  2. Next, go to the ‘Delete your account’ page and make sure you are logged in

Opening the Delete your account Instagram page on a web browser and selecting a response to why you’re deleting the account

  1. Next, from the dropdown list, select an answer to the option 'Why do you want to delete “username”?

Drop down list to pick reason for account deletion

  1. Finally, enter your account password and click the ‘Delete’ button

Re-enter password for confirmation and button to confirm permanent account deletion

Instagram will now accept your request and delete your account 30 days after the submission of the delete request. Your account will be hidden during the 30 days and if you change your mind about it, you simply need to log in to your Instagram account to prevent the deletion.

After 30 days, you will not be able to recover your account no matter what and will be required to start a new account on the platform.

Instagram does, however, claim that it may take up to 90 days for your account to be actually deleted from the day of the request. Furthermore, Instagram does not promise a 100% removal of your data as some of it might be in some of their "backup" files.

Instagram also has the right to store your information, even after account deletion, for legal purposes such as terms violations, harm prevention efforts, etc. as detailed in their privacy policy.

Alternatives to protect your privacy

As mentioned in the previous section, once you create an Instagram account, there is pretty much no way to erase 100% of your information from Instagram servers and databases. They will always keep a bit of information from you for any future legal issues.

But even so, there are a few ways in which you can protect yourself on the internet including your personal information.

  1. Avoid including personal information in the posts you make on social media such as personal information such as location, full legal name, contact details, etc.
  2. Don’t add strangers or anyone whom you don't know personally, as your connections on any social media platforms
  3. Try to keep all information on your profile page private, by using privacy settings as well as the private account feature on Instagram
  4. Make sure all kids and older people in your household are aware of internet safety as they are most vulnerable online
  5. Finally, if all the above steps aren’t enough, you can go nuclear and erase your entire digital identity which will ensure that no one can view your private information

Conclusion

Instagram, and other social media platforms, with all their benefits, have recently begun to fall victim to various data leaks. Some sources even claim the platforms themselves misuse user data for monetizing the platform and generating advertiser revenues.

This brings to light the need to be able to protect personal information from such platforms as well as data leaks.

In this article, we focused on Instagram, and how to permanently delete your account from the platform. I have also detailed a temporary deactivation method, as well as alternative steps to protect personal information on the internet.

If you enjoyed reading this article, or have any questions/suggestions, please let us know by leaving a comment below.

Author
Rakesh Naik
Freelance Cyber Security Analyst and Writer practicing in Infosec Assessment.

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