Can You Check Someone Else’s Instagram DMs?
It’s reader question time here at TechJunkie once again and this time it’s around privacy on Instagram. The question was ‘Can you check someone else’s Instagram DMs? Can you hack someone’s account without them knowing? Someone knows what I DM’ed someone else and they shouldn’t be able to know that as we didn’t tell them.’
While this is quite a specific question, it relates to lots of questions we see around privacy and security on social media. This is a pet subject of mine so I was tasked with this answer. As most of us use Instagram, the thought that our activities on the network may be exposed or be seen by someone who don’t want to see is not a nice one.
Instagram DMs and hacking
Instagram is relatively secure as long as you use a good password. There are lots of apps and websites on the internet that say they can hack someone’s Instagram account. Some of them might even work, most of them won’t. I would advise against anyone installing apps from shady websites offering to hack Instagram as you don’t know what you’re installing on your phone!
Instagram has no mechanism for checking someone else’s DMs. The whole system is designed to be direct, point to point, person to person and nobody else. I’m sure the server admin at Instagram could check if they wanted but they are the only ones I can see who could possibly hack into a Direct Message.
If someone got hold of a DM between you and someone else, there are only really two ways that could have happened. The recipient of that DM told them or your account has been compromised. I cannot help you with the first possibility but I can help with the second.
Hacking Instagram accounts
If someone has definitely read a DM, it is possible that your Instagram account has been compromised. The person who read the DM got hold of your username and password somehow and has access to your account. You can check who has accessed your Instagram account from the website.
- Log into Instagram using a web browser.
- Select Settings and Account Data.
- Select Logins under Account Activity and check to see if someone else is using your account.
You can do this on the app but it might be easier to read on a desktop screen. You should see a list of the most recent logins in the list. Check them and see if you recognize all of them. If you don’t, someone may have been accessing your account. It’s time to lock it down.
Secure your Instagram account
It’s easy to secure your Instagram account. All you need to do is change the password and enable two-factor authentication (2FA). If someone has access to your password, you don’t have 2FA enabled otherwise you would be notified if someone logged in.
- Log into Instagram and navigate to the password change page.
- Enter your current password into the top box.
- Enter a new stronger password twice in the boxes underneath.
- Select Change Password to save.
- Log out of Instagram and back in again using your new password.
Choose a strong password or passphrase. Make it as complicated as you can while still keeping it memorable. If you can never think of good passwords, use a password manager. They are browser extensions or apps that take care of passwords, generate secure ones, automatically add them to logins and a whole bunch of other tasks.
Changing your password should stop anyone from logging into your account but enabling 2FA can seriously increase your account security. It isn’t a magic bullet that will stop every possible hack but it is the best we have right now.
Two-factor authentication is a very straightforward system. You log into Instagram as you normally would by entering a username and password. You then receive an SMS with a code. Enter that code into the login screen to complete login. It’s an extra step you need to take to access Instagram but means someone needs your phone as well as your password to log in.
Enable it right now.
- Log into Instagram if you aren’t already.
- Select Privacy and Security.
- Select ‘Edit Two-Factor Authentication Setting’.
- Select to receive a phone code.
- Enter your phone number and confirm.
From now on, you will need your phone with you at all times when logging into Instagram. As the vast majority of us use our phones for it anyway, this shouldn’t be an issue.
It’s not a comfortable feeling knowing someone else is either accessing our social media account or reading things they shouldn’t. You have control over the system and can secure your account but managing the people you socialize with is a whole other type of tutorial!