How to Delete Instagram Permanently

It may seem like a frightening prospect – like you're allowing yourself to drift off to sea on a boat without a sail – but you may very well find that deleting Instagram can be incredibly liberating. The internet is littered with blog post after blog post with titles like "Why deleting Instagram was the best decision of my life", or "I deleted my Instagram and I've never felt better", or "7 ways my life improved after I deleted Instagram". The list can go on and on, but you get the idea.

 

There's obviously something behind all of this, a feeling equally intoxicating and unsettling. If you find it difficult to take your eyes off Instagram and dread the thought of stepping away for even a day or two, then the thought of cutting it out of your life for good can be truly disquieting in many ways. Yet, the appeal of breaking free from the platform can be just as potent.

If you've ever considered deleting Instagram (and if you've clicked on this article, then it's likely you have), there's no time like the present. There's a good chance that reacquainting with your 'pre-Insta' self will prove to be a decision you won't regret – it may just take that initial leap of faith.

We're here to let you know how to delete Instagram and why you may want to do it. If you're hesitant, just hear us out, because doing so may be life-changing.  

Why delete your Instagram account?

You might be surprised at all the reasons why deleting Instagram could be a positive thing. If your professional life depends on using Instagram in any way, then obviously it wouldn't be in your best interest to delete it. But as long as you don't rely on the platform to help you put food on your table, deleting Instagram can be beneficial in many ways.

Here are some of the reasons why you'd want to delete Instagram:  

To protect your privacy

Besides deleting your account to prevent others from viewing your posts, you'd do well to protect your privacy from the data collecting efforts of the Facebook-owned platform itself and the third-party partners and advertisers with whom it shares data. Facebook has been involved in its fair share of well-publicized user privacy incidents recently, but Instagram hasn't exactly been immune to such incidents, either.

Notably, a recent revelation exposed that Instagram allowed a third-party advertising partner to scrape profile data from millions of users. What's more, a recent security vulnerability had the potential to allow threat actors to access users' account details and phone numbers. Though these issues have been addressed by the company, it's only a matter of time before something like this happens again with the platform. By deleting your Instagram account, you can protect your privacy and avoid having your personal data misused or compromised by the social media giant. 

Because you're tired of being bombarded by the seemingly picture-perfect lives of those you follow

Instagram is famously a place where users go to embellish their lives and brag about what a perfect existence they maintain. Being constantly bombarded by such phoniness and contrived displays of status can be tiresome. Not just that, but it could lead to increased levels of anxiety as you constantly compare your life to those of others and end up in a perpetual state of keeping up with the Joneses – which brings us to our next point... 

Because your life is becoming constantly centered around the approval of others

When you're always comparing yourself to others and attempting to match what others' lives are (supposedly) like, you're allowing your existence to center around the approval of others. After you post something, how often do you reach for your phone to check how many likes your post has gotten and who liked it? Every couple minutes? If that's the case, then you may be focusing too heavily on the approval of others. This can be dangerous and can lead to increased anxiety as well. When you delete Instagram, you'll be free of the often obsessive need to compare yourself to others and to gain their approval. 

Because it's feeling like a huge time-suck and you want to break free and do something productive

If you're spending hours and hours a day scrolling through Instagram, you may find that the day has completely slipped by and you have little time left for anything else. Maybe you're putting off an important but difficult task and spending your time on Instagram instead, or maybe you're scrolling through Instagram instead of working out or focusing on your studies. Whatever the case, Instagram can be addictive and an enormous time-suck that gets in the way of what you really should be doing. Delete Instagram and get to achieving your goals instead.  

You want to spend more time actually interacting with those around you rather than doom scrolling

Similar to the point above, you may feel like your Instagram use is getting in the way of spending quality time with your family and friends. When you delete Instagram, you can get back to interacting with your friends and family in meaningful ways instead of periodically glancing up from your phone to ask someone to repeat the question they just asked you.

You want to preserve the battery life on your phone

Maybe your reason for deleting Instagram is as practical as wanting to preserve your phone's battery life. Naturally, when you no longer have Instagram on your phone, you're not sucking your phone's battery dry with hours of scrolling and posting. It's simple, just do the math: less Instagram = longer battery life.  

You may just want a temporary digital detox

Finally, you may simply want an extended digital detox. And that is totally understandable. Instagram will allow you to temporarily suspend your account and come back later if you're not sure you want to delete your account altogether. A temporary digital detox is a great way to test the waters of what an Instagram-less life can be like if you're not entirely sure you want to step away from the platform forever. Go ahead, give it a try... you may find your digital detox so rewarding that you have no desire to reactivate your Instagram account at all. 

How do you delete an Instagram post?

If all you want to do is delete a post on Instagram, but not delete your account altogether, you can do so easily from within the app itself. You can also archive a post instead of deleting it completely if you want to just hide the post temporarily and bring it live again at a later date. In any case, all you'd need to do is follow these simple steps:

  1. Launch Instagram.
  2. Go to your profile and locate the post you want to delete or archive.
  3. Tap the three dots in the top right corner.
  4. Tap on either "Delete" or "Archive" depending on the action you want to take.

If you delete your  Instagram post, it will be gone for good and you will need to create a new post. If you archive your post, you can bring the original post back to your profile at any time.

How to temporarily disable Instagram

Here's where it gets a little trickier. Instagram obviously doesn't want its users deleting their accounts, or even deactivating them temporarily, so it doesn't make the process of doing so exactly user-friendly. Frustratingly, Instagram won't allow you to disable or delete your account directly from the app, though you can begin the circuitous journey of doing so from the app – which, we must concede, is a start. Anyway, by following the steps outlined below and going through your Settings menu to the Help Center in your app, you'll eventually be directed to the Instagram website from which you'll be able to disable or delete your account.

Follow these steps to temporarily disable your Instagram account:

  1. Launch Instagram.
  2. Tap on the profile icon in the lower right corner of your screen.
  3. Tap on the menu (the three horizontal lines in the top right corner of your screen).
  4. Tap on "Settings".
  5. Tap on "Help".
  6. Tap on "Help Center" (from here, your web browser will open and you'll be directed to the Instagram website).
  7. Tap on "Managing Your Account".
  8. Tap on "Delete Your Account".
  9. Tap on "How do I temporarily disable my Instagram account?".
  10. Tap on the "instagram.com" link and log in to your account through your web browser.
  11. Tap on your profile picture in the bottom right corner of your screen.
  12. Tap on "Edit Profile".
  13. Scroll down to the bottom and tap on "Temporarily disable my account".
  14. Select an option from the field under "Why are you disabling your account?".
  15. Enter your password.
  16. Tap on "Temporarily Disable Account".

That's it, in a little more than fifteen steps, you can temporarily disable your Instagram account. Of course, you can always start from Step 10 in the list above, but since most users are likely to try disabling their accounts from the app itself (in the interest of being thorough and attentive to most users), we list every step you'd need to take when beginning from within the app.

When you finish the process of temporarily disabling your account, your account (including your posts, likes, and comments) will be hidden until you log back in and reactivate it. Please note that Instagram will only allow you to temporarily disable your account once per week.

How to permanently delete Instagram

If you're ready to take the plunge and cut Instagram out of your life for good, the process will go just about the same as above, but with a few variations. But before you go permanently deleting your Instagram account, you will probably want to download an archive of your posts for your own personal records. This is because once you've deleted your Instagram account, it will not be possible to recover those posts – they're gone forever. So if you still want to have access to those posts, you'd better download an archive of your Instagram data before you delete your account.

How to download an archive of your Instagram data:

  1. Launch Instagram.
  2. Tap on the profile icon in the lower right corner of your screen.
  3. Tap on the menu in the top right corner of your screen.
  4. Tap on "Settings".
  5. Tap on "Security".
  6. Under "Data and History" tap on "Download Data".
  7. Enter the email address to which you want Instagram to send you your data.
  8. Tap on "Request Download".
  9. Enter your Instagram password.
  10. Tap on "Next".

Once you've completed the process, Instagram will get to work on compiling the data for you and you can expect to receive an email with a link to download your data within 48 hours of your request, depending on how many photos and videos you've posted to the platform.

After you've gotten that taken care of and you've gotten the email from Instagram and downloaded your data, it's finally time to take that leap of faith and delete Instagram for good. Before taking the next steps, though, be sure that you really want to delete your account because once you've done so, there's no turning back or recovering your account. But since you've come this far already, you probably already have a good reason for wanting to delete your account, so it's likely you'll benefit from doing so right away, and even benefit in ways you never imagined previously.

Here is how to delete Instagram permanently:

  1. Launch Instagram.
  2. Complete the steps above to download a copy of your Instagram data for your records (not required, but recommended).
  3. Tap on the profile icon in the lower right corner of your screen.
  4. Tap on the menu in the top right corner of your screen.
  5. Tap on "Settings".
  6. Tap on "Help".
  7. Tap on "Help Center" (from here, your web browser will open and you'll be directed to the Instagram website).
  8. Tap on "Managing Your Account".
  9. Tap on "Delete Your Account".
  10. Tap on "How do I delete my Instagram account?".
  11. Scroll down until you see the "Delete Your Account" link, then tap on it.
  12. Select the reason why you want to delete your account from the drop-down menu on the following page.
  13. Enter your Instagram password.
  14. Tap on "Permanently delete my account".
  15. Breathe a sigh of relief and get on with your life.

Note that 30 days after your deletion request is received by Instagram, your data will be permanently deleted, meaning that you'll technically still be able to change your mind during that time period. But we'd recommend resisting the urge to do so since there are so many ways you can benefit from not being on Instagram, from maintaining greater control over your digital privacy to a multitude of other positive impacts on your personal well-being.  

How to make your Instagram profile private

If you don't want to delete your Instagram account, but want to take steps to protect your privacy on the platform, you can easily set your profile to private.

Here's how to set your Instagram profile to private:

  1. Launch Instagram.
  2. Tap on the profile icon in the lower right corner of your screen.
  3. Tap on the menu in the top right corner of your screen.
  4. Tap on "Settings".
  5. Tap on "Privacy".
  6. Tap on the slider next to "Private Account".
  7. Confirm your decision by tapping on "Switch to Private".

After you've set your Instagram profile to private, only your followers will be able to see your posts. Users who are not following you will not be able to see your posts and any user who wishes to follow you and see your posts will need to send you a follow request that is subject to your direct approval.

While you're at it, you may want to go through the rest of the privacy settings and set them to your personal preferences. You can block or mute accounts, restrict who sees your posts and who can comment on them, and more.

You can also hop over to the "Security" section from your Settings tab to enable two-factor authentication, reset your password, and clear your search history. You can head over to the "Ads" section to adjust your ad preferences and toggle off the option to "Use Data from Partners", which will prevent Instagram from using data provided by its advertising partners based on your browsing activity across the web.   

How do you delete Instagram - Conclusion

There are many reasons why you would want to delete your Instagram account. Though it can be a difficult decision to make, once you've gone through with it, you'll most likely notice immediate benefits. You'll be taking a major step in protecting your digital privacy, you'll have more time to act on what's truly important to reach your goals, you'll be more present and have more meaningful interactions with the people you care about, and you may find that your anxiety levels drop.

All of these benefits can be vital in making you much happier and more fulfilled on the whole. So, go ahead and delete your Instagram account and see for yourself what all those bloggers are harping on about how deleting their accounts changed their lives. Doing so may change yours for the better, too. 

Written by: Attila Tomaschek

Attila is a Hungarian-American currently living in Budapest. Being in the VPN game for over 5 years, along with his acute understanding of the digital privacy space enables him to share his expertise with ProPrivacy readers. Attila has been featured as a privacy expert in press outlets such as Security Week, Silicon Angle, Fox News, Reader’s Digest, The Washington Examiner, Techopedia, Disruptor Daily, DZone, and more. He has also contributed bylines for several online publications like SC Magazine UK, Legal Reader, ITProPortal, BetaNews, and Verdict.

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