What are Instagram Web Profiles?
Instagram introduced web profiles this week. Previously, you could only see Instagram photos through the app (on mobile devices) or third-party websites. Now, Instagram is rolling out web profiles on their own website. They look similar to a Facebook profile. The same information available on an Instagram user’s account – name, username, description, and photos – will be available on the internet for all to see.
Anyone on the internet can view public Web Profiles
By default, an Instagram account is public. So any public Instagram account will be fully visible on the Internet. A random visitor could see your child’s profile if:
- They know your child’s username (such as jeanbeannh) and type it into the website like this: instagram.com/jeanbeannh.
- They click on your child’s username from someone else’s public profile, through a tag (such as @jeanbeannh)
- Your child has a tagged a photo with a hashtag (like #sunset to mark a photo as a sunset, which makes it available for people who want to see sunset photos)
Even private accounts will have a web profile – but photos won’t be visible
If an account is private, only the username, name, description, and profile picture will display on the web profile. Photos will not display. When logged into Instagram and clicking on a private profile you’ll see the and the message “This user is private”. When not logged into Instagram and clicking on a private profile you’ll see the message “This user has no photos“.
What Parents can do to protect their child’s privacy on Instagram
- Make sure your child’s account, and therefore their online profile, is private. Only logged-in Instagram users who follow your child will be able to see their photos on the web. See my earlier article to learn how to make an Instagram account private.
- Make sure your child knows all their followers. I’ve seen that kids have a tendency to try to collect followers like they used to collect marbles or baseball cards. Make sure they actually know these people!
- Make sure your child’s Instagram username (instagram.com/username) and Name listed on their account don’t include their last name.
- Make sure no personal information is shared in their Description, such as where they live and go to school. This is where I’ve seen that kids like to explain a bit about themselves such as “I love soccer, dancing, ice cream and going to the beach”. That’s fine but I’ve also seen “I’m 13 and a seventh grader at My Town School. I love pizza, pink nail polish, and cute boys. Follow me and I’ll follow you!” You might want to put the kibosh on that.
- Make sure your child is not leaving comments on their friend’s public profiles that include personal information.
For parents who have already allowed Instagram, take a look and check your child’s Instagram account. You’ll need to know their username. Then go to instagram.com/username. Hopefully you also know their app password – always a good idea to require that you know their social media passwords And yes, Instagram is as much a social media service as it is a photo sharing service. This is a great conversation starter and opportunity to review your expectations in regard to their online behavior.
For parents who have not allowed Instagram, you are lucky! You don’t have to deal with this (yet). The introduction of Instagram web profiles may bolster your argument for not allowing the Instagram app for your child.
More information from Instagram about Web Profiles:
Instagram Tips for Parents: