They were a place to share photos, videos, and updates with your family and friends. These days, there are more reasons to place that barrier between your profile and the general online public.
And, private accounts keep bots, strangers, and lurkers off of your profile, making for better user experience.
Others go private in an attempt to game the algorithm. Last summer, The Atlantic ran an article that reported an uptick in the number of meme accounts going private. The practice is an easy way to increase follower counts, as digital lurkers need to take the leap and follow if they want to view the content.
So, whether you’re a private account owner yourself or you’d like to look at a feed here and there without alerting the account holder, you might want to know how to view private Instagram accounts.
Just send the request
The most legitimate way to view a private profile is to send the account owner a request. Which, of course, you’re thinking, “well, duh.”
But, so long as the account owner isn’t some ex you’ve been stalking, most people will accept your message, even if they don’t know you. If you’d really like to get in touch, try dropping a short message in the DM section.
If you’d like to get around this, there are a couple of options, but they’re either a little shady or not especially effective.
Investigate with their username
Searching by username doesn’t always work perfectly, but you may be able to find the information you’re looking for.
Sign into Instagram and type in the username of the person you want to look up.
Then paste the name into Google’s search bar. Now, this won’t automatically unlock any private accounts, but there’s always the chance that this user left a few digital breadcrumbs behind before switching their account to private mode.
There’s also the chance that this person has a public Facebook page or a LinkedIn profile (obviously do your research in incognito mode) you could check out instead.
Honestly, this method might not yield a wealth of information, but it beats asking for access when it could create an awkward situation.
Use an Instagram viewer site
There are countless sites out there that promise access to private accounts. Most are paid services, though, and they seem a little sketch. With names like Instaspy or Private Instaviewer, the idea is to provide access to accounts without having to follow a user — I.e., users won’t know that you’re stalking them.
Private Instaviewer presents itself in a way that makes it seem like a free service. Use the search bar, get a profile in return. That’s not exactly the case, though.
Instead of being greeted with the usual RECAPTCHA box, you’re required to fill out some questions about your favorite candy. And then—you’ll have to fill out your name, address, and payment information.
Look, inputting your payment info is perfectly normal when you’re purchasing from a reputable website, but when software that exists for the sheer purpose of breaking into others’ accounts, they likely won’t care about protecting your info, either.
Ultimately, your best bet is to do a little sleuthing for free, or you know, bite the bullet and send a request.