Beneath the world of well curated aesthetics and picture-perfect lifestyles, Instagram fosters something scary. Instagram stalkers are a force to be reckoned with.
Commonly known as Instastalkers, these people develop an unhealthy obsession with particular people on the platform that can turn into online harassment, and even cyberbullying. Sadly, Instagram doesn’t do much to protect its users. Cyberstalking is creepy enough on its own but it’s even scarier not knowing what you’re dealing with.
This is why I prepared a guide on how you can check for Instagram stalkers, and how you can protect yourself from them.
How to Find Instagram Stalkers
Unfortunately, Instagram hasn’t introduced a feature that lets you see who views your profile yet. That said, there are a few things you can do to check for stalkers.
Who Viewed Your Instagram Stories
It’s easy to see who clicks on your stories. Pull up your story, then swipe up. Below the snapshot, you’ll see a list of people who viewed it. Legend has it that the people who replayed your story will be higher up, but as of now Instagram refused to comment on what really influences the order of the list. Take the order with a grain of salt.
See Your Profile Interactions
Click on the “heart” icon in the upper right corner in the app. You’ll see who liked your posts, comments, and who comments on your posts. While this doesn’t really indicate much, if you find someone suspicious who likes or comments on everything you do on the app, you might be dealing with a stalker.
See Your Analytics
If you have an Instagram for Business account, you’ll have access to Instagram Insights which is an analytics tool. It can help you see suspicious activity among your followers.
Use this knowledge and check your followers. Are many of them new accounts? Maybe with no profile picture, and no activity? That’s a sign of a burner account.
Check Followers After Privating Your Account
You can private your account which means people have to send a request to follow you. You’ll then have to approve or deny it. You can go through each request and check their profile. If you see anyone suspicious, delete their request.
Don’t Use Third-Party Apps
Silent stalkers are those who don’t interact with you. They just monitor you but don’t make their presence known. Some even use burner accounts, so you can’t always tell who you’re dealing with.
It can be an incredibly stressful situation, and unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t offer much help in this sense. Except for privating your account and blocking users, you don’t have a lot of recourse. This is where Instastalker detection apps come in (but, spoiler alert, not in a good way).
These are basically apps that claim to let you know who sees your profile, how far down they scroll, and how often they visit your profile. Sounds good on paper, but Instagram doesn’t approve or endorse these apps. While Instagram’s databases might have this information, the company only sells it for a hefty sum, usually to advertisers. Obscure apps dealing with stalkers won’t have the money to legally buy that information off Instagram.
This means these apps either get that information through scraping Instagram’s databases, or they’re just plain old scams.
Now, here’s the thing. Most apps claiming they’ll let you know whether you have stalkers on your profile will ask a lot of your details in order to help you (along with money of course). Things like:
- Your username
- The email address you use for Instagram
- Your Instagram password
- The phone number you use for Instagram
- Your password associated with your email address
These are things you shouldn’t share with anyone, so stay away from apps that promise to give you any data Instagram itself won’t freely give you.
Sadly, there isn’t much you can do to definitely confirm you’re dealing with a stalker. The most Instagram lets you do is put two and two together, and hopefully block users. This is why you’re better off taking measures to protect your account preemptively.
The 101 on Instastalkers
As opposed to other types of crime, there were virtually no laws around stalking until the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Because of this, stalking isn’t taken seriously as it should in many places.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) found through its National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) that 1 in 6 women, and 1 in 17 men in the US were victims of stalking. The latest report is from 2015, and doesn’t touch much on cyberstalking but we can assume the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated social media stalking.
By their very nature, social media platforms condition you into sharing as many details about your life as possible. Your photos, your location, your work, and so on. Some platforms like Facebook allow for privacy settings that enable only your friends to see your posts. While you can also private your account on Instagram, the site has fostered a competitive environment that discourages you from doing so, or you risk gaining little to no followers.
Cyberstalkers are present on all platforms, but Instagram seems to have a particularly large dormant stalker base. First, we need to understand what’s enabling them.
Why Instagram Fosters so Many Stalkers
As opposed to introducing a 280 character limit, Instagram made its platform the place to express yourself.
Perfectly curated aesthetics for every niche style? Check.
Pictures to flex your healthy/fitness/wellness/natural lifestyle? Check.
Want to show off your outfit haul or new car? It’s the perfect place.
Instagram fostered a very competitive platform that makes everyone post idealized versions of themselves and their lives in order to impress their peers. It’s no wonder the term “Instagram face” became synonymous with the western beauty standard. But it’s exactly this picture perfect image that drives some to the unhealthy obsession that is cyberstalking.
Stalkers can be incredibly infatuated, highly jealous, absurdly vindictive, or just plain trolls. No matter the motive, cyberstalkers are not only emboldened by Instagram’s algorithm, but by their own feelings towards the curated feed.
What Enables Instastalkers
Unlike Pinterest or Twitter, Instagram creates an incredibly personal look into people’s lives (even if most of it is stylized and not necessarily real). Its addictive algorithm fosters constant scrolling and people are encouraged to create content that keeps others engaged.
Instagram’s tremendous stalker base also fueled markets never before seen. As stalking complaints emerged, Instagram did the bare minimum in allowing users to see who views their Stories and create private accounts. So anonymous story viewers emerged.
Third parties developed apps that would scrape Instagram’s pages and databases to allow people to view posts and stories anonymously. Some also let you know likes, comments, and comment replies. For a fee, some of these Instagram stalker apps claim they give access to deleted posts, deleted stories, and even private DMs.
It’s a widely unregulated business that treads on a legally gray ground. Despite that, there’s enough of a demand that these services keep appearing. Some of them are scams, so victims can have some minuscule satisfaction that stalkers out there are losing money on this.
Sadly, cyberstalking has even less legislation around it, and in some places the police can’t do anything as long as no one physically harms you. We still have a long way to go to make digital spaces safer and more regulated, but until then you’ll have to take matters into your own hands.
How to Deal with Instagram Stalkers
Stalkers can be motivated by many different things. Whether it’s a very misconstrued infatuation with you, a bored troll, or someone with malicious intent, dealing with stalkers is nerve-wracking.
When it comes to Instagram stalkers, your options are a bit limited since Instagram has little protection in place for its users. That said, I can give you 10 quick tips on how to deal with a stalker.
- Trust your gut. If your instincts tell you something is off about a follower or someone in your DMs, don’t take any chances. Stop engaging immediately.
- Don’t share personal information. This could put you at risk. Also avoid posting pictures that can give up your location. Do you live near a unique landmark? Then avoid saying you’re near home. Avoid tagging a location while you’re still there.
- Use Instagram’s block option. Don’t be afraid to block anyone you find creepy. Stalkers often use burner accounts, and the more you block, the better for you.
- Restrict who can send you messages. If someone you don’t follow sends you a DM, you’ll receive it under the Requests tab. You can also change your settings to automatically hide messages from people you don’t follow.
- Sometimes it might be best to take a stand. Some stalkers keep bothering you because, in their twisted mind, they think you’re playing coy. A direct “no, I’m not interested” does wonders. Just be very careful they don’t have other means of contacting you, like your home address or phone number. Don’t do this if the stalking extends beyond Instagram!
- Delete their inappropriate comments. Tap their comment and press on the trash icon to delete it.
- Keep screenshots or other forms of proof. This can help you if you choose to pursue the matter legally, but it might also help you discover a pattern or logic to their behavior that you can use to your advantage.
- Private your account. If all else fails, you can private your account to keep your posts and activity safe from scrutiny. With private accounts, you’ll also have to manually approve or deny follower requests, so you have control over who can see your content.
- Take a social media break. I know this isn’t the ideal scenario, but it can do wonders for your mental health, and hopefully get your stalker too bored to consider pursuing you. Consider temporarily deactivating your Instagram account, if you don’t want to lose access to your content.
- Call the police if things get out of hand. If you start to receive threats or inappropriate images, call the authorities and let them know. They can advise you on what to do further, based on your local jurisdiction.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and might not carry over to other social media platforms. If you have reason to suspect you’re in danger, don’t hesitate to contact the police or a lawyer, and see what your best course of action is.
How to Stay Safe from Instastalkers
The topic of online safety is still widely debated, since digital threats keep evolving faster than most people can keep up with. When it comes to cyberstalking, the biggest issue is the lack of a proper legislative framework that defines online stalking and protects victims.
For now, the onus is on you to build safe habits whenever you go online. This can include:
- Be Careful What You Share Online
- Never post your phone number, home address, bank or ID card details, car registration plates, or any other personal information.
- Check your photos for anything that could reveal your location, like unique landmarks, street names, or places you visit frequently.
- Avoid location sharing.
- Don’t post details that can be used to map your home or scrutinize your security. Looking at you, home tour trends!
- Be private about your workplace. The routine surrounding workplaces makes it easy for stalkers to pinpoint your location and activities.
- Let your friends and family know your concerns, so they won’t post pictures of you that can tip off your stalker.
- Be vague with your descriptions. You’re on vacation in Greece, not Athens. You’re enjoying a coffee, not the frappuccino from the Starbucks on Broadway.
- Be Mindful with Who You Connect
- Review your follower list, and check for any creepy users. Consider removing or blocking those who make you suspicious.
- Limit who can DM you. You’ll find that option via your profile by clicking on the “three lines” icon then going to Settings > Privacy > Messages.
- Consider privating your account. This way you can manually approve or deny follower requests, so you can weed out suspicious accounts.
- Limit who can comment on your posts. Under your Privacy settings, you can limit who can comment on your posts and even select a duration.
- Limit who can tag you. Under your Privacy settings, you can limit who can @ you. This helps prevent stalkers tagging you under inappropriate posts.
- Consider who in your DMs warrants a reply. Some stalkers try to connect with you through kitschy icebreakers that you’re better off ignoring. Others will pester you until they get a reaction out of you.
- Screenshot and save all weird interactions, especially if you’re dealing with threats. This is incredibly draining to do, but it will help you if you ever need to take matters to the police.
- Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help
- Let your close friends and family know what you’re dealing with. Besides moral support, it helps having an extra pair of eyes to ensure your safety. They’ll also know to avoid engaging with your stalker.
- If you’re dealing with threats of violence, grossly inappropriate imagery, or pestering that’s affecting your daily life, consider going to law enforcement authorities to see what your options might be.
- Depending on your country or state, you might want to consult with a lawyer. They can make a case for a restraining order, for example.
- If there’s a resource center that helps with stalking near your area, you can find expert advice. These centers are often found under domestic violence centers.
- Create a Safety Plan
A safety plan includes all the important information to help you take control of an unsafe situation. Since cyberstalking is usually a double-edged sword that can include physical stalking, I’ll include both here.
|Physical Safety Plan||Digital Safety Plan|
|Consider using self-defense gadgets that are legal in your area, like pepper spray, ring knives, or protective keychains.||Use CyberGhost VPN to encrypt your information. Email can be intercepted just like your regular mail, and traced back to you.|
|Let close friends or family members know your routine, like the time you arrive home, or if you’ve planned a night out. They can check in on you.||Get an antivirus that has real-time protection. Cyberstalkers use malware like spyware to keep track of their victims. You need an antivirus solution to notify you immediately before your system is compromised|
|Consider alternating routes to your workplace, gym, or school. Routines make you predictable and can be used to pinpoint your location.||Avoid third-party login systems, like Login with Instagram options. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) to secure your accounts and prevent unwanted access. This helps to prevent doxxing as well.|
|If your home has been entered into, notify the police immediately. Change locks, and keep windows shut whenever you’re not around.||If your accounts are compromised, change all passwords, and enable MFA. Consider deleting the accounts you no longer use.|
|Use a code word to let a trusted person know you’re in trouble. It should be something inconspicuous like “I hope it won’t rain this Friday” being a code for “Call emergency services.”||Use personal safety apps to alert your friends or even the police that you’re in danger at the press of a button. There are plenty of free ones on the App Store and Google Play Store. Be sure to vet them properly first.|
|Consider a safe place if things get too dangerous. Whether it’s a family member’s house or a crisis center, make sure you have a plan B if you need it.||Consider using more privacy-friendly alternatives to popular social media platforms. Reddit is more anonymous than Facebook, since it doesn’t require your name. Signal is a more secure option to Whatsapp.|
- Try to Limit (Ideally, End) Contact
It’s easier said than done, but limiting exposure to your stalker is sometimes the best course of action.
- Avoid replying to comments, DMs, or tags on Instagram. Cyberstalkers will often resort to aggressive measures to get your attention, which might be tough to see but responding usually makes it worse.
- Don’t reply to calls. Mute your phone, and consider changing your phone number if anyone suspicious got hold of it.
- Alert the authorities if you receive more invasive contact attempts, like someone coming to your door, or trying to contact your family.
Use CyberGhost VPN to Protect Yourself Online
CyberGhost VPN is a virtual private network that conceals your IP address to make your identity harder to trace online. CyberGhost VPN also encrypts your entire internet connection to keep snoopers away from your connection and data.
In a world where Instastalkers are prevalent online, the last thing you want is your personal data being exposed. Since social media thrives off data-mining, you can’t expect Instagram to secure your data any time soon. Even worse, Instagram has had a few data breaches due to poor security practices.
You need to take steps and mitigate these risks. CyberGhost VPN is an easy-to-use tool that significantly bumps your online security at the click of a button.
CyberGhost VPN is compatible with all major operating systems, so you can secure your Instagram connection on all devices.
We have apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux for all your social media needs. Our Smart DNS feature lets you change your IP on Smart TVs, gaming consoles, and even routers to conceal your location on all your devices. You can connect up to 7 devices at the same time.
We also operate under a strict No Logs policy. This means we never monitor or store any information about you — because we don’t collect it in the first place. We’ll never share or sell your data, so you can enjoy foolproof data protection.
CyberGhost VPN also comes with a generous 45-day money-back guarantee, so you can test every feature at your leisure completely risk-free!
Online Safety Is a Constant Battle
Online services still have a long way to go to ensure your safety, and social media platforms are the worst offenders. Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and many others have come under fire so often for selling user data and enabling hateful content, it doesn’t really come off as a surprise that they don’t do enough to protect their users.
Sadly, you’re better off taking matters into your own hands, and trying to fend off stalkers as best you can. Use CyberGhost VPN to encrypt your data to keep snoopers off your tracks, and avoid oversharing on all social media sites.
Security Suite will help you keep your devices free of malware like spyware, which are popular among stalkers. Practice good cyber hygiene, create strong passwords, enable MFA, and never hesitate to block weird Instagram accounts that come your way.
Stalking however sometimes goes beyond online safety, and this is something you need to discuss with competent authorities. Don’t delay in getting help if you need it, and try finding good crisis centers near you that can help.
We define Instagram stalkers as people who use Instagram to repeatedly interact with their victims to the point of harassment. Stalkers often have an unhealthy obsession with their victims, and will spend time:
– Going through posts, and Instagram Stories
– Repeatedly trying to get their victim’s attention through likes, comments, and tags
– Sending DMs or emails to illicit a response
– Monitoring their victim’s social media presence, and interactions
Stalkers range from being an inconvenience to being outright life-threatening.
Sadly, Instagram doesn’t make it easy to see if anyone is stalking your profile. You can swipe up on your Instagram Stories to see who viewed them, or you can keep an eye out on your analytics if you have an Instagram for Business account. With Instagram doing so little to protect its users, you need to take measures and protect your digital life to minimize your information ending up in the wrong hands.
Unfortunately, there’s really no easy way to keep stalkers at bay. The best thing you can do is practice good cyber hygiene, and avoid sharing too much on Instagram. Privating your account is also a good idea to prevent stalkers from interacting with you. Follow our guide for some tips on how you can avoid getting caught in the snares of an Instastalker.
You’ll also want to secure your devices and accounts from unwanted entry. Use a good antivirus to protect from spyware, secure your online accounts with multi-factor authentication, and use VPN encryption to add a layer of security to your connection. CyberGhost VPN encrypts all your internet traffic, and it comes with a risk-free 45-day money-back guarantee.
CyberGhost VPN swaps your IP address with one from a VPN server which improves your privacy online and makes your online browsing history much harder to trace to you. Our VPN apps also encrypt your internet traffic to prevent third parties from snooping on your activities. This helps boost your online security immensely.
Leave a comment