XX min read

Fact Check: Can You See If Someone Screenshots Your Instagram Story?

Published on
March 16, 2023
Anyone can screenshot your IG stories when you post them publicly. Discover how to see if someone screenshots your Instagram story in this post.

It’s not easy to download Instagram stories directly, so the Instagram app has become a wild west of screenshots. It’s also become common to take a screenshot or a screen recording of an IG story specifically because stories are designed to disappear. But does Instagram notify users of those screenshots? If you’re wondering whether other accounts can see if you’re screenshotting their stories, or trying to see who’s screenshotting yours, we’ve got all the answers you need about Instagram screenshots right here.

What You’ll Learn:

  • It’s incredibly popular to screenshot Instagram stories and other content types too.
  • You can’t see if someone screenshots your Instagram story.
  • Other Instagram post types do trigger screenshot notifications. Check your DMs!
  • Screenshots don’t really solve the problem of capturing stories.

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Why Do People Screenshot Instagram Stories?

There are plenty of reasons someone might save an Instagram story by taking a screenshot. With that said, the motivation to screenshot stories is likely to be very different for brands than it is for individuals.

Individual Instagram users — including influencers — are more likely to take a screenshot of their story or stories shared by accounts they’re following for one of these reasons:

  • For a longer look: Screenshots allow you to take their time with a specific image (without having to press on the screen to pause the story from progressing automatically).
  • To zoom in: You can’t zoom in on an Instagram story inside the app, so taking a screenshot makes it possible to pinch to expand a still image for a closer look.
  • To save something for later: Want to remember to look something up later, check a link, or attend an event? Taking a screenshot keeps that memory even after the story expires.
  • To share with others: It’s hard to share stories after they expire, with people who don’t use Instagram, or from private Instagram accounts. Taking a screenshot makes it easy to forward the image anytime, anywhere.

On the other hand, brands have a totally different set of inspirations for saving Instagram stories. Brands, social media managers, and influencer marketers might take screenshots for reasons like these:

  • For preservation: It’s common for brand teams to want to screenshot their own published content to create a record of their creative output on social media.
  • To collect UGC: It’s more important than ever for brands to capture user-generated content. Without tools like Archive, screenshots can seem like the only affordable option.
  • For social listening: Getting a sense of how the public responds is critical for e-commerce brands today. Screenshots can help brands track consumer sentiment over time.
  • To manage an influencer program: Once brands start activating influencers, they need to know who’s posting about them and track when and what they’re sharing.
  • To repost to other platforms: Brands can screenshot stories they either found or created themselves to spread the word to TikTok and other platforms without doubling their work.

Can You See If Someone Screenshots Your Instagram Story?

Whether you’re doing it yourself or wondering if someone else is doing it to you, screenshots will lead to questions like: “can you see if someone screenshots your Instagram story?” And “will instagram notify me when somebody takes a screen recording?” The answer is no.

Back in 2018, Instagram did experiment with story screenshot notifications. The idea behind the new feature was to preserve the ephemeral nature of stories, making sure that each one lasted 24 hours and 24 hours only; since screenshots can live forever, they cancel out that temporary time frame.

It’s important to remember that stories were originally Instagram’s response to the wild popularity of Snapchat’s disappearing photos. Initially, stories tended to be content that people specifically wanted to disappear, so they wouldn’t exactly be thrilled if some stranger kept a copy forever. The media even called Instagram screenshot notifications “creep alerts.”

But backlash from users led Instagram to phase out the screenshot notification feature quickly. The community complained it interrupted their user experience, first and foremost. The type of content Instagram users share in stories evolved too; many users rely more on stories than they do on feed posts these days. Since notifications were phased out, there has been no official way to tell if someone takes a screen recording or screenshot of an Instagram story.

Can You See If Someone Screenshots Other Content On Instagram?

Here’s a quick and easy breakdown of whether or not you can see when someone screenshots Instagram’s main content types:

  • Stories: No, you can’t see if someone takes a screenshot of your Instagram story.
  • Reels: No, you can’t see if someone takes a screenshot of your reel.
  • Feed posts: No, you can’t see if someone takes a screenshot of your Instagram post.
  • Live: No, you can’t see if someone takes a screenshot of your Instagram live.
  • DM: Sometimes! It depends on the type of DM and the content you’re attaching.

As you can see, neither the original poster nor the viewer is notified of screenshots in most cases. But screenshots inside Instagram DMs are a different story. Let’s dive into the details.

When Can You See If Someone Screenshots Your DMs?

When it comes to the chat itself, Instagram won’t notify either user if someone takes a screenshot of your direct messages. If you’re a brand DMing an influencer you want to work with, for example, and either one of you takes a screenshot of the conversation, no one will ever know. If you send a photo as a direct message to another account and they take a screenshot of the photo displayed inside the chat, that’s their social media secret.

But with photos and videos sent inside direct messages, Instagram does sometimes notify users about screenshots. 

Direct media attachments

There are two different ways to send photos and videos in an Instagram DM. The first is to tap the camera roll icon to access your photos. (You’ll find it on the bottom right of the message bar sandwiched between the microphone icon and the plus sign.) When you use this method to select a photo from your camera roll, Instagram adds it directly to the DM chat. It’s visible at all times and no one will be notified if anyone takes a screenshot of either the chat window or any media that appears embedded in it.

Disappearing messages

The second way to send a photo or video in Instagram DM is to send disappearing messages. You can do this by tapping the camera icon in the bottom left corner of the message bar. Within this method, you can either capture new content using Instagram’s camera or select a photo or video from your camera roll. Then you can choose your view settings: allow replay, view once, or keep in chat.

If you select keep in chat, Instagram will treat the photo or video like a direct media attachment (which we explained above). But if you select either allow replay or view once, the image will appear behind a message displaying the word “Photo” or “Video” (depending what kind of media you sent). 

The recipient will need to tap on that label in order to view the content. And if the recipient screenshots the photo or video, you’ll see a small dotted circle next to the label in the chat window. Some people refer to that circle as a starburst icon. That’s how you’ll know if someone took a screenshot of your photo or video.

Vanish mode

Vanish mode also changes the game. To enter vanish mode, open a DM like you normally would and swipe up in the chat window. (You exit vanish mode the same way.) While you’re in vanish mode in Instagram DMs, everything is designed to disappear. 

Messages, photos, videos, and any other content sent while in direct message vanish mode will automatically be erased when either user turns off vanish mode or leaves the chat. That’s why taking screenshots while in vanish mode will trigger a notification.

The screenshot notification is no big deal; you’ll both see a line of text right there in the chat that says “@username took a screenshot.” This keeps everything on the up and up, ensuring transparency and helping users stay safe on the platform.

How To Manage Your Privacy On Instagram

It’s perfectly normal to have privacy concerns on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, or even on Whatsapp, which is owned by Meta. There are plenty of options for users to control what information they make public and how the apps collect and use their data. Unfortunately, few of those options are great choices for brand accounts. When you use Instagram to connect with consumers and build your audience, making more of your content private won’t exactly support your marketing goals. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible for brands to make privacy controls work for them. Here are some of your options:

Make your account private

Navigate to your settings and set your Instagram account to private. Only your followers will be able to view your content (including posts, reels, and stories) and you’ll get to approve any new followers who request access to your feed. It won’t stop your followers from taking screenshots of your content, but it will give you more control over who can access it in the first place.

Create your close friends list

If you want to be able to share certain kinds of content with an even more limited segment of your audience, you can add users to your “close friends” list. Each time you post an Instagram story you’ll have the option to select and edit your close friends list, meaning you can handpick the users that will have the opportunity to view (and potentially screenshot) that content.

Hide stories from specific users

Instead of allowing a select few users to view stories you want to keep private, you can take the opposite route and disallow certain users from viewing your stories. If screenshots have become a problem in the past, for example, or if you’re seeing your content show up as stolen on other accounts, you might want to prevent those users from viewing your stories at all. 

Navigate to the story section of your main Instagram settings (you’ll need to take different steps on iPhone/iOS and Android devices) and use the hide story from feature. You can also go to a specific user’s Instagram profile and tap the three horizontal lines in the upper right corner and select hide your story. Remember that users you hide your stories from will still be able to see your other Instagram content, like reels and feed posts. If you want to ensure a specific user can’t see any of your content, you’ll want to block them!

The Better Way To Capture and Repurpose Instagram Stories

Taking a screenshot of a story is one way to hold onto Instagram content. Whether you’re trying to capture your brand’s creative output or attempting to repurpose influencers’ stories in your ad campaigns, screenshots will technically get you there. But they’re definitely not the best way. If you’re relying on your own screenshots, miss a story and it’s gone forever. Plus, screenshots make it harder to see what content you actually have while all those images clutter up your camera roll and kill your phone storage.

Some people rely on third-party apps because Instagram doesn’t offer a native feature to save stories, but those can be sketchy at best. Then there’s the problem of permission; you need to get usage rights from the content’s original creator before you can legally repost their UGC from your own accounts, let alone use it to build brand campaigns.

That’s why we built Archive. Archive is an influencer marketing platform that drives results, without all the manual stuff. (That means no screenshots or spreadsheets!) Archive automatically collects all of the UGC your brand is tagged in, including ephemeral content like Instagram stories. Stories appear in your Archive library like magic, ready to be repurposed into ad campaigns, brand decks, or whatever your team creates. Advanced social listening features, usage rights management, reports, and even shoppable e-commerce widgets for your website will help take your influencer program to the next level.

But first, you’ve got to quit screenshotting your Instagram stories. Let Archive automatically collect Instagram stories for you — along with feed posts, reels, and TikTok videos too. Get started with Archive for free today.

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