What happens if I unfollow someone on Instagram?

01 Jun 2018 Becca Cawthorne

Childnet, a partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre, explore what happens if you unfollow someone on Instagram; and what you can do if you discover someone has unfollowed you.

Our Education Team go into schools each day to talk to children, young people, teachers and parents. During these visits members of our team are asked various online safety questions. In this series of blogs we look to answer some of the most frequently asked questions from these sessions.

What happens if I follow someone on Instagram?

This depends on their privacy settings. If their account is set to private then you can only request to follow them – they will receive this request and get the opportunity to ‘confirm’ or ‘delete’. If they confirm your request, then you will begin following this person

If their account is set to public, you will be automatically allowed to follow their account, and they will receive a notification to say that you have followed them.

Once you have started following someone then you will be able to see their profile and each time they share something new it will appear on your homepage as part of your feed.

It’s important to remember that if you follow someone on Instagram, you do not create a two-way link between your accounts. You can see their content but they will not automatically see yours. For that person to see your content in their feed they will need to follow you back.

What happens if I unfollow someone on Instagram?

Unfollowing someone means you will no longer see their content in your feed. If they have a public account then you may still be able to see what they post by visiting their profile directly.

If you choose to unfollow someone on Instagram they will not receive a notification saying that you have done this. However this doesn’t mean that they can’t work it out another way. For example, if they notice that their number of followers has decreased, they may be able to tell who has unfollowed them by looking at the list of their followers and working out who is missing.

Additionally because following someone on Instagram does not create a two-way link between your accounts, unfollowing them will only stop their content appearing in your feed, and will not stop them seeing content that you post.

If you want to prevent someone from seeing the content you are posting, then what you need to do depends on your privacy settings:

For private accounts

If your account is private then you can remove them as a follower. This can be done by going to your followers list and clicking on the three vertical dots to the right of their name.

For public accounts

If your account is public then you will need to block someone to prevent them seeing what you are posting. This can be done by going to their profile, clicking on the three vertical dots at the top of the page and selecting the ‘Block’ option.

Note: Instagram does not send notifications to the other person if you remove them as a follower or block them.

What should I do if someone unfollows me?

Firstly – don’t panic! If your total number of followers has decreased it could be for any number of reasons and it’s no reflection on you and your offline friendships.

If you know the identity of the user who has unfollowed you then there’s still a few things to consider.

  • There are some accounts on Instagram who will follow lots of other users with the expectation that they should then immediately follow back. These ‘follow for follow’ accounts are often looking for quick gains in the number of followers they have and may unfollow you at a later date.
    In these situations it’s best to have your privacy settings in place to help control who can see what you’re sharing and to manage who can follow you. Remember that sharing content with people who you don’t know in person can be dangerous – especially if you’re revealing things like personal information.
  • If somebody you know offline has unfollowed you then try not to worry. It may have been by accident or because of a misunderstanding. Immediately reciprocating and unfollowing them could make the situation worse.
    It’s worth considering your friendship more broadly – has their behaviour towards you changed? If your friendship still feels positive, then unfollowing you may not have been done for a negative or malicious reason. It’s absolutely okay to be friends with someone offline but not to follow each other on social media.
    If it really bothers you or your friendship seems to have changed, try and have a conversation in person. Approach it calmly and without judgement: “Hey, I noticed you unfollowed me on Instagram – is everything alright?” Listen to what they have to say and work together to resolve any conflicts – maybe unfollowing you was a symptom of another disagreement.

Remember it’s ultimately their decision as to whether they want to follow you or not and vice versa. Most importantly, you shouldn’t let these decisions define your friendship.

Whilst it can sometimes feel personal if somebody decides to unfollow you, it’s important to remember that you’re worth more than the number of followers you have online. If you’re struggling to cope with the pressures of being online then it’s important to speak to someone at home or at school.

You can also visit the following sites for further advice and support:

Childline – You can contact Childline about anything. Whatever your worry, you can call Childline for free on 0800 1111

The Mix – The Mix offer free information and support for under 25s in the UK.

POSH – If you work with young people our Professionals Online Safety Helpline offers free, independent advice on a range of online safety issues, including social media use, professional reputation and policy advice.

Email: Helpline@saferinternet.org.uk or call 0344 381 4772* Monday to Friday: 10am-4pm

*Calls cost the same as standard landline starting ’01’ or ’02’. If your phone tariff offers inclusive calls to landlines, calls to 0345 numbers will also be included.

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