Private Instagram accounts are a way for no one to see the photos you post on Meta’s photo social network if you don’t approve a follow request. However, it’s not such a reliable method and there are a few ways your photos can get out to some stalker.

Private mode is an option available exclusively for personal accounts. Unlike Meta’s other social network, Facebook, Instagram’s private or public mode applies to the account itself in its entirety. If you have a private profile, you cannot set the visibility of certain posts to public; and if you have a public profile, you cannot make the visibility of certain posts private.

Is there a legitimate way to view a private profile?

As of today, the only ethical and legitimate way to view a private profile is to become a follower of that particular account. To do this, you will need to first send a follow request, which needs to be approved by the owner of the profile in question.

This gives content creators control over the reach and range of people who will see their posts. Whether or not they confirm your follow request will mainly depend on two factors: whether or not they know you and how much they really value their privacy. There are people who really have no qualms about being followed by strangers, but they just want to have the last word and decide for themselves to follow you.

For example, there are celebrities who create a public account in which they promote their work and another private one in which they share images that they reserve for their closed circle.

Alternatives to view private Instagram profiles

Although this privacy option should mean that your photos could not leave the circle of followers you have authorized, it is not strange that they can end up leaking through several ways.

For example, by performing a simple Google search, you can find old posts from a previously public account. These posts are indexed in search engines and may appear in the results. Likewise, some other user may have reposted a private photo or tagged themselves, which could also end up bringing up a private post.

If an Instagram user has made their account private, that doesn’t mean that their other social media profiles are also restricted. You might be able to find the same post in the open on Facebook, because of the interconnectedness across Meta, Twitter or TikTok networks (in case of Stories or Reels).

Of course, there are also third-party apps that promise to present you the profile of someone with a private account as an authorized follower would see it, although you can also fall for apps that actually serve to infect devices with malware or ransomware.

Promising websites and apps such as,, or, do not work in practice either, despite promising to do so and end up redirecting you to sweepstakes pages, surveys and all kinds of dubious advertising.


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