6 Safety Tips for Instagram Newbies

It's been more than three years after Instagram's launch stormed the social networking scene, and here we are, with its popularity showing no signs of dimming. If you're one among the latest to have fallen for this charming photo app, Buzzle has a few safety tips and rules to address your concerns.
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Safety tip for Instagram newbies
In 2012, Instagram spurred a controversy when it announced that it reserves the right to sell users' photos to third parties without notifying the account holder or offering compensation. Several protests erupted, including one from National Geographic, and the policy was promptly withdrawn.
That, unfortunately, is a stellar example of how social networking apps or websites can take the users for a ride. Privacy settings are always in place, of course, but they can be rather long-winding and far too complicated for an average user to understand. Instagram is no exception to this rule, and being a photo sharing app, users have a lot to lose if they're not aware of how it functions.

Thankfully, the rules to be followed in this case are not too complicated; nevertheless, they need to be remembered at all times. Also, if you're a parent, you're sure to have a few concerns regarding privacy policies, with a view of safeguarding your child (Instagram is available for download to anyone aged 13 and above).

Changing the privacy setting of your feed

Obviously, we wouldn't want our photos to be accessible to all and sundry, which is why, it is important to acquaint ourselves with these privacy settings. This is how you keep your pictures private:
  • When you open the app, the bottom right corner has your 'profile' icon. Tap on this icon to enter your profile.
  • Tap on the 'Edit your profile' option.
  • Scroll the screen until you find the option, 'Posts are Private'. Flip the switch if you're using an iPhone to turn this option on. Android users need to check the adjacent box.
Having done this, your photos will only be displayed to your followers, and not the general public. They won't show up in public searches as well.

Blocking a follower

We're all excited to have followers, especially in the initial days, to the extent that we don't mind random people following our profile as well. But if you wish to change that and block anyone for some reason, it is easy to do so.
  • Enter your profile by tapping the profile button on the Instagram interface.
  • Then, tap on the number which indicates your followers.
  • Tap on the profile of the person you wish to block. Doing this will open his/her profile.
  • Once you are accessing his/her profile, tap on the menu icon on the top right corner. A pop-up list will appear.
  • Here, tap on the 'Block user' option, and you will have blocked this follower with immediate effect.
Blocked followers do not receive any notification of this action, so don't be in knots about offending someone.

Now, things don't end here. You may have switched on your privacy settings and blocked all those pesky followers, but just like everyone else, you have hooked up your Instagram account to Facebook and Twitter. So, despite doing everything of the above, your photos can still be accessible to all those people who have befriended you on Facebook. Hot mess it certainly is, but it can be sorted.

Tweaking your Facebook settings
  • Log in to Facebook and access 'Settings'.
  • Select 'Account settings' and find the 'Apps' button.
  • In the 'Apps you use' menu, you'll find Instagram. Access Instagram to edit your options.
  • Once you're in the 'Edit' section, click on 'Visibility of app'. You'll get a drop down list of options including 'Public', 'Friends', 'Friends of Friends', etc. Click on any option applicable to you.
Deleting your photos

To delete a photo, all you need to do is access your profile, scroll to find the picture you wish to delete, and tap on it. A menu icon (three small dots) will appear below the photo. Tap on the menu and a window pops up with the 'Delete' option. You only need to select delete, and the photo is done away with.

Make use of 'Instagram Direct'

This is a feature that allows you to choose the people you'd like to share a photo with. To try it out, click a picture using Instagram and follow the usual steps to upload it. In the final stage, you will find the 'Share to' option, with 'Followers' and 'Direct' to choose from. Tap on 'Direct', and you'll get a list of your followers. All you need to do is tap on the names of those you wish to share the post with, and the said photo will only be shared with the selected ones.

Check if you really want to use Photo Map

The Photo Map feature pins your image on a map, pointing the location where it was snapped. Clicked a picture outside Tiffany's flagship store? By using Photo Map, your photo will be pinned on to Fifth Avenue for all to see. If you wish to avoid doing so, go to your settings and switch off/uncheck the 'Add to your Photo Map' option.

To delete previously mapped photos, tap the 'Photo Map' tab which is the teardrop-shaped icon on your profile page, then tap on 'Edit' in the top-right corner of your Photo Map. Zoom in and tap on any photo you'd like to erase off the map, or tap the grid button at the bottom of the screen to pick and delete several photos off the map at once.

It's a pity how a fun-filled application can go awry and be deemed unsafe as a result of a few irresponsible users. Instagram is indeed a rather interesting app, and it isn't surprising how it has managed to catch on with teens. As a parent, if you're feeling concerned about the way your child is using the app and wish to learn more about it, read the 'Tips for Parents' page on their website.
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Published: May 30, 2014
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