With more than a billion users, Instagram is one of the most popular social networks on the web today. It’s the eighth-biggest online community today, behind Facebook and fellow Facebook-owned companies Messenger and WhatsApp, along with popular international chat apps WeChat, QQ, and Viber.
Removing dedicated messaging apps from that list leaves Instagram as the third-largest social network in the world and the second-largest in North America. It’s an incredibly important platform for both users and brands, with most people choosing to follow not just their friends, but the content that piques their interests. Whether you’ve used Instagram to check out what your friends from college are up to or to share the photos you’ve captured, the chances are good that Instagram is one of the most important apps on your phone.
Of course, there comes a time when you might want to disconnect from your social platforms, and not just temporarily. More often than ever, people are choosing to delete their social media presence in order to live a life less focused on online culture. Whether you’re trying to protect your future job aspects by deleting your social media, or you’re just trying to reach for your phone a little bit less, deleting your social media accounts may lead to a healthier life—and that’s to say nothing of the misdeeds carried out by Instagram’s owner, Facebook.
Permanently deleting your Instagram account may seem like a major step, but if you’re ready to be free of your account and to get some spare time back in your life, it’s easy to carry out. Let’s take a look at how to delete your Instagram account for good.
Delete Your Instagram Account
When you delete your account, Instagram will do just that: delete your account and everything on it. That means all of your photos, likes, and comments will be permanently removed. If you change your mind after fully deleting your account, there is no going back. You cannot resurrect an old account, and you cannot bring back deleted data. You can create a new account with the same username, but you will be starting from scratch.
Before deleting your account, you might want to save a permanent record of your posts, comments, and profile information. To do so, follow these steps:
- Open Instagram and tap the profile icon in the lower right corner.
- Tap the three vertical lines in the top right corner, then tap Settings at the bottom.
- Select Privacy and Security from your Settings menu, then find the Download Data option.
- Enter your email address and tap Request Download.
Within 48 hours, Instagram will email a complete file of your profile to the email address you provided, containing your photos, comments, profile information, and everything else you may need to access in the future. Even if you think you’ll never need this data again, it’s an important step to ensuring that your data is protected if you ever want to view it again. If you don’t do this, you’ll be losing out on your data completely—and you’ll never get it back, no matter how hard you try.
How Do I Permanently Delete My Instagram Account?
After you’ve saved your data, you can move on to deleting your account:
- Go to the special Delete Your Account page on your mobile device or desktop.
- Log in, if prompted to do so. Select a reason for deletion from the drop-down menu. You must do this to proceed.
- Re-enter your account password in the blank provided.
- Click or tap Permanently delete my account.
Disable Your Instagram Account
If you are only looking for a break from Instagram, don’t be rash. Consider disabling your account instead of deleting it. Disabling will log you out and hide your profile. As far as your followers are concerned, you may as well have deleted the account. But as far as you’re concerned, you can return any time by simply logging back in. Follow these steps to disable your account:
- Go to Instagram.com from your phone or computer. You cannot do this from the app.
- Log in, if prompted to do so.
- Click or tap on the profile icon in the upper right-hand corner.
- Click or tap Edit Profile.
- Scroll down and tap Temporarily disable my account to the right of the Submit button.
- You will be asked why you are doing this. Select an option from the drop-down menu.
- Re-enter your account password.
- Click or tap Temporarily Disable Account.
Note that you may only disable your Instagram account once each week, per Instagram’s policies.
How Long Until Instagram Deletes Your Account?
If you go through the deletion process we outlined above, your Instagram account will be deleted immediately. This is different from Facebook, which disables your account for two weeks before queuing it for deletion, which can take up to 90 days (104 days total). You don’t have the same cushion when deleting Instagram, so be sure about your decision once you decide to delete it.
If you’re wondering how long it takes Instagram to delete inactive accounts or accounts reported for spam/botting, the answer is a little less certain. Instagram periodically deletes completely inactive accounts and accounts that are detected to be bots through their system, though no one except for Instagram is entirely sure how often this happens or what the parameters for deletion are.
Trouble Logging In
If you have been hacked and you want to protect your personal information, then you might find the above steps easier said than done. Unfortunately, there is no way to delete or disable an account without first logging in. Nor can you appeal to Instagram to do it for you. If you cannot remember or find your password, or if it has been changed by someone else, follow these steps to recover it.
- Open the app.
- Tap Get help signing in under the Login button.
- If you have Android, choose one of the following: Use username or email, Send an SMS, or Log in with Facebook.
- If you have iOS, choose one of the following: Username or Phone.
- Follow the prompts after your selection.
If you think you have been hacked, you might not be able to use one or all of these methods, depending on how thorough the hacker has been at changing your recovery information.
- Open the app.
- Tap Get help signing in under the login fields.
- Select the option that allows you to enter your username.
- Tap Need more help?
From here, you can follow the prompts to contact Instagram. They will likely ask you for information regarding the account, such as past passwords, recovery information, and more.
By resetting and deleting your Instagram account for good, you can finally give yourself some personal time back, to escape and leave behind the ever-present slog of online culture. Of course, temporarily deactivating your account is a good option if you’re looking to get away for a while, but otherwise, delete away to protect your account—and your sanity.