How to download your Instagram data

    Posted on April 27, 2018


    With the GDPR compliance deadline now less than a month away and social media data sharing such a hot topic at the moment, many sites are making moves to offer more transparency on the data they hold about their users. Both Facebook and Twitter allow users to download the data the sites hold on them, and now Instagram has followed suit.

    The photo-sharing site is owned by Facebook, so may feel itself obliged to follow the trend of being a little more upfront over what it knows about its users. If you would like to find out the details the site holds on you, follow these steps:

    1. Go to your profile by clicking the head and shoulders icon in the top right
    2. Click ‘Edit Profile’
    3. From the sidebar on the left, select ’Privacy and Security’
    4. You will see a ‘Data Download’ option. Click ‘Request download’
    5. By default, it will bring up the email address you set up your Instagram account with, but you can change this if you want to use a different one. It will also ask you to re-enter your password

    A report will now be compiled and emailed to you, although Instagram warns that this may take up to 48 hours. When it’s ready, Instagram will email you a link to the report and you’ll need to download it within four days.

    The file will contain all the photos and videos you’ve uploaded to Instagram, so if you’re a heavy user of the site or have been a member for a long time, it’s not unlikely that you will have to download your data in parts due to the size of the file, but it should allow you to while away a bit of time as you reminisce over your uploads.

    The more nitty-gritty parts of the report are the sections on your comments, likes, settings, searches etc., which are in JSON format. These are basically just a huge dump of text and are horrible to read, but it’s all there if you care to sift through it.

    I thought it might be interesting to do this myself, since I have barely used Instagram. I only set up my account a few months ago and have never posted. Consequentially, my report came through to me in just a couple of minutes. It’s also incredibly boring and hardly says anything, which in a way is disappointing, but also reassuring – it’s good to know that at least if we don’t tell Instagram anything, it doesn’t know anything!

    John Murray
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