What does “restrict” mean on Instagram?

Updated: Dec. 18, 2023

Want to hide someone's activity on Instagram without blocking them? Now you can.

National attention on mental health has put pressure on social media giants like Instagram to address safety and security on their platforms. What is Instagram doing in response? The company launched new privacy features, including a restriction option that allows users to limit how often they see comments and messages from certain accounts on their feed. And while you can tell if someone blocked you on Instagram (for example, you won’t be able to see their Instagram stories), this feature won’t alert the user that you have restricted them. So what does restrict mean on Instagram?

The restrict feature aims to protect users from harassing, abusive or annoying comments and messages on their profiles. Whether they are dealing with a menacing cyberbully or an embarrassing family member, “oftentimes users don’t want to escalate the situation or cause unnecessary confrontation if they interact with the person offline,” says Katelyn Sorensen, CEO of Loomly, a brand marketing company. “This makes the restrict feature a perfect solution for someone who wants to prevent another account from interacting with them without the other account knowing.” Instagram’s commitment to user privacy also explains why you can’t see who views your Instagram profile.

If you’re ready to try this new privacy feature for yourself, we’ve got the scoop from experts on what the restriction feature does and how to use it. As you read, keep in mind that the restrict feature on Instagram only limits your interactions with another Instagram account. If you want to stop someone from messaging you through Facebook, you’ll need to learn how to block someone on Facebook Messenger.

Get Reader’s Digest’s Read Up newsletter for tech, humor, cleaning, travel and fun facts all week long.

Here’s What Happens When You Restrict Someone on Instagram

Restricting a user on Instagram is similar to blocking them—but a little more polite. Whereas blocking a user hides your entire feed and stories from them, the restrict feature simply hides their comments and messages from you while still allowing them to view your posts. “It’s a more subtle way to limit unwanted interactions without completely removing them from seeing your content,” says Teresa Day, president of PLANOLY. “Unlike blocking someone on Instagram, the account you’re restricting will not be aware.” What happens when you restrict someone on Instagram is that you can avoid unwanted interactions online without breaking any social media etiquette rules.

What happens when you restrict someone on Instagram?

By restricting an Instagram account, you hide the account’s comments and direct messages from yourself and other users. You also will not receive any notifications when that person comments on your posts or sends you a message, and they will not be able to see some of your activity, such as when you are online, either. “Restricting someone is perfect for those times when you don’t necessarily want to block, unfollow or kick them off as a follower, but you also don’t want them to have unfettered access to you,” says Michelle Krasniak, author of Social Media Marketing All-in-One for Dummies. To view a restricted user’s comment, you can tap “See Comment” and choose from one of three options: “Approve” if you want others to see the comment, “Delete” if you want to remove it or ignore it. You can also see a restricted user’s messages under the “Message Request” tab.

How to restrict someone on Instagram

You can restrict an account on Instagram via the iPhone or Android app as well as on Instagram’s website. This is how to restrict on Instagram through an account’s profile.

screenshots showing how to Restrict An Account On Instagram from their account pagerd.com

  1. On the user’s profile page, tap the three-dot menu icon in the top right-hand corner of your screen.
  2. Tap “Restrict.”
  3. First-time users may see an explanation about the restriction feature. Tap “Restrict Account,” if so.
  4. A pop-up window will say that the user is now restricted. Tap “Learn More” for more information or “Dismiss” to go back to their profile.

Want to reverse the restriction on Instagram? Here’s how.

  1. Open the user’s profile page.
  2. Tap the three-dot menu icon.
  3. Tap “Unrestrict.”

To restrict an Instagram account through the comments section of a post, follow these steps.

screenshots showing how to Restrict an account on Instagram From The Comments on a postrd.com

  1. For Apple users, swipe left on a comment from a user you want to restrict. Android users should tap and hold the comment.
  2. Tap the exclamation point icon, then choose “Restrict.”
  3. To unrestrict an Instagram user through their comment, swipe left for iPhones or tap and hold the comment for Androids, tap the exclamation point icon, then select “Unrestrict.”

You can also restrict an account through your settings.

screenshots showing how to Restrict An Instagram Account From your Settingsrd.com

  1. Go to your profile.
  2. Tap the three-bar menu icon in the top-right corner.
  3. Tap Settings > Privacy > Restricted Accounts.
  4. Enter the name of the account that you want to restrict.
  5. Tap “Restrict” next to the name of the account.

How to know if someone restricted you on Instagram

Although a restricted user won’t be notified that you have restricted them (just like when someone screenshots your Instagram story), “it’s probably only a matter of time” until they notice something’s up, according to Krasniak. “If your behavior toward and interactions with them on the platform suddenly change, they may start asking questions,” she says.

There are a couple of ways to find out if someone restricted you. Check the telltale signs of what happens when you restrict someone on Instagram. You can try to see if you can view the green “Active Now” dot on the user’s profile picture or statuses like “Active 1h ago” underneath their messages. You can also try to leave a new comment on their latest post and ask a friend to see if your comment is visible. If your friend cannot see the comment that you just posted, then you might have been restricted.

That said, there are no foolproof ways to know that someone has restricted your account. Instagram allows users to turn off their activity status for everyone, and comments might get delayed before appearing on a post. But it’s a good idea to recognize the signs of what happens when you restrict someone on Instagram to know to look out for them. You can avoid other dangers lurking on your Instagram app by looking for these signs an Instagram ad can’t be trusted.