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Can Someone Tell If You Screenshot a Story or Post in Instagram

Posted by Arch on December 28, 2018

Update: Remember when Instagram rolled out an update that required users to swipe to view the next post, instead of scrolling? And remember how that update was rolled back just a few hours later due to the deluge of user fury?

The same thing happened with screenshot notifications. Just four months after a soft rollout for user testing, Instagram announced in June 2018 that the “feature” was being eliminated. However, if you want to be extra careful about taking screenshots on Instagram – or storing another user’s stories or posts – read on.

How Screenshots Used to Work on Instagram Stories

Do you like to take screenshots of other people’s Instagram stories? The anonymity of doing so has come to an end. You can’t take screenshots of stories or posts in Instagram anymore. No, Instagram hasn’t taken control of your phone’s OS, but they’ve done the only thing they can do: Tell the owner of the story that you took a screenshot.

Since its announcement in early 2018, many users have already received notifications that their stories and posts were recorded or captured. How will it work? Instagram can detect if you take a picture of your phone screen. When this happens, a little icon appears next to your name.

What exactly triggers the notification? It can be one of three things:

  • Taking a screenshot of an Instagram post or story
  • Recording a screen while checking out someone’s Instagram
  • Recording a screen while looking at a story that includes a video

Though it’s not widely used yet, it will eventually be remotely enabled. This means that it may already be on your version of Instagram.

How will you know when it’s in use? The first time you take a screenie you’ll get a courtesy warning from Instagram informing you it’s in use.

Instagram posters will know you are the one that tried to immortalize their temporary event by checking out the “Seen By” list in their account. Next to your name will be a circular icon that looks a bit like a sun, or a camera shutter.

To be clear, Instagram users who have their posts captured won’t receive an immediate notification. However, if they are curious they can see that it’s you by scrolling through their “Seen By” list.

If this sounds familiar, it should. Snapchat users have had this notification system for a while, and it’s where Instagram got this idea.

This is only one step further for Instagram’s notification system. They already notified users when a private direct message was screened. The testing for this new notification system is another way Instagram is attempting to protect user privacy.

Finally, this issue isn’t without some controversy. And some users are slowing down their browsing, if not leaving the platform altogether, because of the impending launch of this new feature.

Can’t stop screencapping what you see on Instagram? There are a few ways to work around the notification if you happen to be one of the parties affected.

Airplane Mode

One way to avoid the notification badge is to set your smartphone to airplane mode and take a screenshot while your device is offline. The downside of doing this is that you will only see one or two posts, because your phone is offline. If you take screenshots of Instagram stories often, this one may not work well for you. Follow the instructions below to set your device to airplane mode.

Android:

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen using two fingers.
  2. Locate the airplane mode icon.
  3. Tap it to activate airplane mode.

iPhone:

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen.
  2. Locate the airplane mode icon.
  3. Tap it to activate airplane mode.

When you’re ready to continue browsing, follow the instructions above to deactivate airplane mode.

Use a Web Browser

Alternatively, you can check out Instagram via your browser and take a screenshot that way.  Instagram does not currently have a way to track screenshots taken from your browser window if you use a laptop or PC.

Chrome Browser Extension: Chrome IG Story

This one is easy to use if you are already a Chrome user.

  1. Download Extension: First, download Chrome IG story for your browser.
  2. Download Available Stories: The default settings already enable privacy mode. What this means is that users won’t even know if you’ve seen their stories. Right-clicking on a user’s profile will reveal a download icon. Clicking the icon downloads all of their available posts and stories in a zip file. Downloads also include all of the user’s posted videos.
  3. Read Via Extension and Save: Additionally, you can also view the stories in the Chrome extension. If you see something you want to keep, just right-click to save it.

Take a Picture with Another Camera

If all else fails, you can try the surefire, low-tech way of taking a screenshot of an Instagram story: grab another camera and take a picture of your screen. As long as it isn’t your phone activating the screenshot, the notification won’t be sent. It may be low quality, but if you really want to capture that screen without a notification, this option works.

Third Party Apps

Finally, if you are desperate to take screenshots of your latest crush’s Instagram, you can try a third-party app. These apps let you look at Instagram stories, screenshot, and save anonymously.

Some apps take the URL for the image or video and use that to save posts. From there, you can view your saved stories in overview mode, and re-post if you want. Other apps do all of that and allow you to re-post as one of the save steps. The ease of use may vary between apps, and the free ones may be peppered with ads.

It’s not illegal to use these apps, but their use may violate Instagram’s Terms of Service. If you really need that screenshot though, you should not expect any repercussions for using these apps.

Conclusion

Will these notifications deter people from taking screenshots of Instagram stories? Maybe not completely. However, in keeping with the ephemeral purpose of Instagram, they are attempting to keep these fleeting stories and posts from gaining immortality from saves and re-posts.

Whether or not you decide to bypass the notifications, or ignore them altogether, is a question of individual ethics. But you shouldn’t feel bad if you are saving and re-posting stories from public figures. After all, that’s what they are there for. On the other hand, you may have to temper your stalking habits unless you want to get caught.

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