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Instagram is great for sharing images, and videos, but it is nowadays very important to protect your online-self, so here are some tips on how to stay safe and secure on Instagram.

First of all, do not let online harassment and hackers, as well as scammers, scare you away from the Facebook-owned social network. Instagram has introduced a number of features intended to secure your account...

1. Enable Two-Factor Authentication

If you are worried about someone potentially hacking your Instagram account, and to post photos without your authorization, setting up a two-factor authentication is a must. It requires a second form of authentication after you enter your password, like a code that will be sent via text. So even if a hacker has your password, they can't access your account.

To set it up, simply navigate to Settings >> Two-Factor Authentication and toggle Require Security Code on. This will require you to enter a code sent to your phone each time you log into your account.

It should be noted that for you to use this feature, your phone number must be connected to your account. But what if your phone is having connectivity issues and can't receive an SMS security code? That's where backup codes come in. Go to Settings >> Two-Factor Authentication >> Get Backup Codes, and use one of the displayed codes to log in.

2. Control Who Sees Your Posts on Instagram

When you share content on Instagram, anyone on the platform can see your pictures and videos by default. If you only wish to interact with people you actually know, set your account to Private via Settings >> Account Privacy and toggle Private Account on.

When your account is switched to a private account, you'll have to approve new followers before they can see your photos or videos. Only approved followers will be able to find your posts through search, see which posts you have liked, and send you direct messages. With a private account, Google also won't index any of your photos to Google image search.

3. Disable Activity Status

Instagram has a feature which allows people to see when you are actively using the app; just look for a little green dot next to a friend's picture in your direct messages. It's there to tell people when you are online to answer a DM, but it can be a little intrusive when you just want to be left alone. Turn it off via Settings >> Activity Status and toggle it off.

4. Report Accounts

If someone is harassing you or posting inappropriate content, you can report them to Instagram. You can do this directly from the account's profile, from a comment, or through a story. Just tap the three-dot icon on the top right of an Instagram post or bottom right of a story, or swipe left on a comment and tap the exclamation point icon. Or fill out a form report on Instagram's website. If Instagram finds that the account, comment, or video breaches its terms of service, the account in question will be suspended.

5. Block, Mute or Remove Followers

Sometimes, people post mean or annoying things that don't necessarily run afoul of Instagram's terms of service. The good news is, you can manage your interactions with them by blocking, muting, or removing them from your followers list. Just navigate to the offending user's profile, tap the three-dot icon and select your desired setting. You can view and manage the accounts you block via Settings >> Blocked Accounts and those that you muted via Settings >> Muted Accounts.

If you set your profile to private, you can also remove people from your followers list. Just go to your followers list, tap the three-dot icon next to the name you want to remove, and select Remove.

6. Control Comments and Instagram Stories

Instagram gives you full control over who can and cannot interact with your photos and videos. If someone posts a comment on one of your posts that you find offensive, delete it. Depending on your operating system, swipe or click and hold the comment you wish to remove and tap the trash can icon to get rid of it. To turn commenting off for a specific post, tap the three-dot icon in the right-hand corner of your post and tap Turn Off Commenting.

Further options are available via Settings > Comment Controls, where you can block comments from specific accounts, set filters to hide offensive comments or those that use specific words or phrases.

You are also able to control who sees your stories and how they can interact with them. Under Settings > Story Controls, you can hide stories from specific accounts. You can also edit who can privately message you or simply turn your DMs off. And at the bottom of the page, determine whether or not your followers should be allowed to share your photos and videos.

7. Manage Photos of You

Your Instagram profile has two major areas where pictures of you show up: pictures you post and pictures in which you've been tagged. If your account is open, anyone can check out the pictures you have been tagged in, but you can control which pictures show up by untagging yourself or removing them from your profile.

To untag, go to the post and either tap the photo and then tap your user name or select the three-dot icon and tap Photo Options. In the pop-up window, tap More Options >> Remove Me From Post. Here, you can also select whether or not you want that photo to show up in the tagged photos section of your profile.

To stop new photos of you being tagged and added to your profile, navigate to Settings >> Photos of You and turn off the option to have new photos automatically added to your profile. Tap Hide Photos to untag yourself from multiple photos at once.

8. Secure Payment Options

Facebook didn't buy Instagram because Mister Zuckerberg likes pretty pictures; it bought it to make money. And one of the ways it makes money is by selling ads, which now include the options to purchase things directly from the post or story.

To complete a purchase, though, you'll need to hand over your credit card number. If you choose to keep your credit card information on Instagram, you should enable a pin to prevent unauthorized individuals from going on a shopping spree. Navigate to Settings >> Payments and tap the Security tab to enter a four-digit code. You will then be required to enter this code each time you decide to use your linked card information.

9. Cancel Access to Third-Party Apps

Many third-party apps connect to Instagram but aren't actually associated with the service. While they mostly seem harmless, they can compromise your privacy. Services like Webstagram, Gramfeed, Instagreat, InstaGallery, InstaView, Flipboard, Statigram, Followgram, and Cityowls get indexed by Google, meaning your pictures can show up in Google image searches.

They can also serve as another means for hackers to gain access to your account. To prevent this, revoke access to third-party access from a desktop computer. Just click the gear icon on your account profile to access the settings menu. Click Authorized Apps and you will be able to remove any you don't want.

Stay safe out there!

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