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Does Instagram Notify the Other Person If You Take a Screenshot of a DM?

Posted by Robert Hayes on April 6, 2019

The social norms surrounding the way we communicate are always changing. This is true of all forms of communication – you may or may not remember that there was a time when calling someone on the phone unannounced was expected behavior. Our communications online are evolving at an even more rapid pace, driven by changing technology and changing social acceptance of how things are done.

One of the founding beliefs of Internet-based communication is that “what you put on the Internet stays there forever.” Things we write and post on public sites like Reddit become part of the public discourse; even when there are tools to delete our old content, a plethora of Internet archives and backup sites make accessing what we said “back in the day” anywhere from easy to trivial. In addition, even our private communications are subject to being archived; when we send personal messages, photos or videos, there is a chance that the person on the other end will keep them. Accordingly, many of us try to be more careful in online conversations than in offline ones.

Some social media platforms try to accommodate their users’ desire to maintain some degree of privacy, by offering temporary message or photo sharing. These services offer messages that self-delete after a certain (short) period of time, or after being read or accessed a given number of times. So how about Instagram? The world’s most popular photo-sharing platform offers direct messaging, both of the temporary and permanent variety – can people on Instagram take screenshots of your messages and photos, and if they can, does the platform notify you that they’ve done so?

In this article I will answer both those questions.

Screenshots and Direct Messaging on Instagram

Instagram users can send each other text messages, photos or videos using the direct message (DM) function of the app. There are two distinct kinds of DMs on Instagram.

Permanent (or regular or traditional) DMs stay in your recipient’s inbox forever, unless you choose to delete them. To send one of these DMs, you should use the text box or the icons on the right.

But there are disappearing DMs as well. To send one of these, tap on the blue camera on the left. A disappearing DM can only be viewed once or twice, it’s up to you to set the specifics. Disappearing DMs can be photos or videos. Additionally, you can send text messages in the form of a video message with a vivid background.

You Don’t Get Notified If Someone Screenshots Your Permanent DM

For normal DMs, the recipient (or the sender) can take a screenshot of the message, and Instagram will not inform the other party that a screenshot was taken. Your recipient can screenshot your messages. Instagram doesn’t inform you if that happened. If your message is in text form, they can also copy it to their clipboard.

On Instagram you do have the option to Unsend a DM at any point, even after the recipient has read it. If your recipient has already made a screenshot, the damage is done. To Unsend a message, tap on it and then select the Unsend option.

You Do Get Notified If Someone Screenshots Your Disappearing DM

If one party in a conversation screenshots a disappearing DM using the system method for taking a screenshot (swiping down on iOS, or simultaneously holding down the power and volume down keys on Android, then the other party will receive a notification. Look for a circular “starburst” icon next to the DM you sent.

In this image, the recipient viewed both disappearing DMs, but only took a screenshot of the second one:

If you tap on the notification icon, you can Unsend your DM. But you can also view its Details.

If you select Details, you’ll find out when the screenshot was taken. You’ll also see who took it, which is useful in a group conversation.

Instagram Also Sends Notifications If Someone Screenshots Your Story

Like the disappearing DMs, Instagram stories are designed to be temporary. When the story function first appeared, anyone was free to screenshot your stories without you knowing about it. But in early 2018, Instagram changed this. At the moment, you do receive a notification if someone takes a screenshot of your story.

Are Screenshot Notifications Useful?

What are the pros and cons of sending out notifications when someone takes a screenshot of your conversation? Since taking screenshots is a stock function that comes with every smartphone, Instagram can’t block it altogether. However, notifications (and knowing that notifications are sent) tends to discourage the taking of screenshots of temporary messages.

A Quick Overview

Let’s summarize. Instagram doesn’t notify if you take a screenshot of a permanent DM. These DMs are the ones you send in the form of text, or by uploading an image or video. However, Instagram does notify the other party if you screenshot a disappearing DM. To send a disappearing DM, tap the blue camera on the left-hand side of the message box.

A Final Word

There are many different approaches to communication via direct messaging.

Some people choose their words with care. They avoid saying anything that could be used against them. For example, they never complain about their workplace or their personal life, because those statements could be incriminating if they were taken out of context.

Others prefer to trust the discretion of the person they’re messaging. This usually works out, but unpleasant surprises are still too common.

Having your personal messages made public is always a harrowing experience. But it’s even worse when the messages you sent were in the form of an image or video. Even if you avoid sending anything particularly sensitive, it’s very unpleasant to see your recordings used without your permission.

Compared to Instagram, Snapchat still gives you more detailed information about how others interact with your content. But Instagram is constantly adding new features. In the future, you might also receive notifications when people screenshot your regular DMs.

TechJunkie has lots of Instagram tutorials and how-tos. We can teach you how to take a screenshot in Instagram, explain whether or not people can detect screenshots of Instagram stories and posts, how to purge all your Instagram DMs, how to delete and unsend a DM before the recipient sees it, and detect whether someone deleted your DM.

One thought on “Does Instagram Notify the Other Person If You Take a Screenshot of a DM?”

Sam says:
I’ve tested the screenshot on Android between 2 different accounts with the disappearing DMs and I don’t see the star burst you’re referring to. Is it only on iOS?

A friend of mine told me he saw I screen shot one of his photos and I said how, he saw hehe. I don’t see it on my end.

Am I missing something????

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