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I love social media as much as the next girl, but sometimes it is hard to know where to draw the line when it comes to privacy.

A few weeks ago I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and curious monkey that I am, I decided to check out an acquaintance’s photo map. This person is very notable in the photography industry and is followed by thousands, so I was quite surprised to see that when I clicked their Instagram Photo Map I could see exactly where they lived. Down to the street level…


I LOVE what GPS has done for memory keeping. I imagine years from now that my grandchildren will have a great time viewing my photos in the context of WHERE they were taken. It adds a completely new dimension to things because places survive long after we are gone. What I wouldn’t give for a map of where all the family photos I have from the 50’s were taken.

However, we live in a time when the combination of social engineering and social media makes one quite the target for fraud if we aren’t careful. I’d like to believe we don’t have anything to worry about, but then I’m forwarded articles like this and I realize that for many, social engineering is a game. The sad part is that many of us don’t even realize we are all playing.

Which brings me back to Instagram. Who doesn’t love Instagram? For many it’s become an online scrapbook of choice. There’s just one problem – it’s also a great place to share information that gives social engineers just what they are looking for to steal your identity.

So how to find a happy medium? The goal here is to give you options to secure your information to the level you want – which will depend on the reasons you are using Instagram in the first place (i.e. business/personal).

(Note from Peppermint: These instructions and screenshots below are for the iOS version of Instagram, menus in the Android version will appear differently.)

1. A Name Few Will Remember

First things first. When you create your Instagram account, think twice about your username. If there’s a social engineer that wants a few pieces of your information puzzle, the first place they are going to search for your name is social media. Don’t make it easy for them! Create a username that’s a bit off the wall – make it something friends will recognize, but a social engineer will miss.


 2. It Starts With The Photos You Take

IF you love GPS info for personal use, but don’t necessarily want to share your location with all your Instagram followers, I have a solution. From your profile click the settings wheel in the upper right corner.


Next under Save To Library > Original Photos, move the setting to ON.


Now the next time you take a photo at home and don’t want to share your location, just make sure that Add To Your Photo Map is set to OFF.


This does give you double the photos in your camera roll, but at the same time gives you the best of both worlds with GPS information AND location privacy. Side by side you can see the Instagram photo contains no location information…


While its original counterpart includes all the location information:


**One small Photo Flow sidenote here, once I import my Instagram images into Lightroom, I just copy and paste the GPS information from the original to the Instagram version and delete the unedited original.**

 3. Instagram –> Facebook

One other thing – if you are sharing to Facebook and your default privacy settings are public, all the Instagram privacy settings in the world won’t help. So take a trip to Facebook and choose the settings wheel > Account Settings in the upper right corner of your Home page.


Then choose Apps from the left column


Scroll through the list of apps until you see Instagram and choose Edit. Then set your privacy to whatever level you want. This will be the default for who sees all your photos from Instagram.


 4. Lock It Down

One way to really protect your information is to go completely private with your Instagram profile. To do this, click the settings wheel in the upper right corner of your profile and then set Photos Are Private to ON under Account.

This not only removes your public profile from Instagram, it also does a number of things to protect the photos you post on Instagram. However, if you already have a bunch of people you don’t know following you, you need to delete people you don’t know from your followers.

From your profile, Click on followers to see your followers. Look for a follower you don’t know and click on their username.

ClickToSeeFollowers ClickUsernametoEditFollower

Click on the arrow in the upper right corner and then click Block User.


Once you remove followers you don’t know, your photos will only be shared with approved followers. If a someone new wants to follow you, you will receive a request to approve before they can see your files.

5. Privacy & #Hashtags

I love hashtags as much as the next person. They add so much flavor and fun to a post. They are also a nifty little tool when it comes to viewing photos in the context of your feed as well as the context of all users on Instagram using the same hashtag. Which begs the question – what happens when you have your photos set to private and you use hashtags?

If a user isn’t an approved follower, they will not see your photos in hashtag feeds..


If a user is an approved follower, they will be able to see your photos in hashtag feeds…


 6. The Nuclear Option

Let’s say this whole privacy thing (or Instagram’s ever changing terms of use) have you wanting to split up with Instagram for good. Yet you still want to get your Instagram photos… Two services, Instarchive and Instaport will help you download your entire Instagram library.


So there you have it – lots of info on Instagram. I’m really curious to know what you all think and what level of security you choose and why – please share away in the comments.