How To Sleuth On Instagram Without Getting Caught

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell
When it comes to Instagram stalking, some say I'm the best. Got a Tinder match you need help stalking? An ex you want to check up on? I'm your girl. But with such great power comes great responsibility and a fair bit of necessary precaution. So ahead, here are my tips for sleuthing on Instagram without getting caught, like Hailey Baldwin recently did when she accidentally followed a Selena Gomez fan account before promptly unfollowing and then DM-ing the account owner to apologize. Face palm.

Make Sure You Didn't Like Anything You Didn't Mean To Like

I do this probably once a day. (Is that crazy?) Here's how: Go to your profile and then click on the three lines in the top right-hand corner. From here, click on Settings and then Account. At the bottom of the menu, click on Posts You've Liked. Here, you'll see a grid of all the posts you have hearted. Study it and make sure there is no incriminating evidence in sight that indicates you were stalking your Tinder match's posts from 2014. If you did mistakenly like one such photo, unlike it, and unlike it fast.

Turn Off Your Activity Status

Hiding your tracks means leaving no trace — so you should definitely disable your activity status, which shows when you were last active on the app. Within Settings, go to Privacy and Security and then Activity Status. Make sure this is switched off. This way, your followers can't see when you were last active on the app (which is good if you don't want people knowing you spent the wee hours of the morning down in the Instagram rabbit hole). If you want to see when another user was last active on the app (that is, if said user doesn't hide their activity status), you'll have to turn your activity status back on to look.

Be Extra Careful When You Make Your Finsta

A Finstagram is a great stalking tool. If you elect to make one for this purpose, though, be sure to do so stealthily. First and foremost: When you sign up, don't connect it to your Facebook account. Doing so could notify all your Facebook friends that you have just made a new Instagram account called soccergurl4768. Same goes for your phone contacts — if your contacts have their Connect Contacts option enabled, they can be notified when you make a new account tied to your phone number (if they have you in their contacts). Your safest bet is using a private email address that can't be traced back to you if you want to be really incognito.

Delete Your Search History

To hide evidence of your stalking past, you can opt to clear your search history within the Privacy and Security tab of Settings. This won't clear your suggested searches, though — to get rid of those, you can cancel them manually by clicking the X next to each. We've all had that moment of opening up Instagram next to a person whose profile is at the top of our Suggested list, only to cancel out immediately before they can see...right?

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