How to request and download your Instagram data

Why you should consider requesting your Instagram data - and how to do it.

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Webster2703 via Pixabay |
Companies like Instagram collect a ton of consumer data.

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If you use Instagram – which is owned by Meta, the same company that owns Facebook – the app is always gathering data about you.

What data does Instagram collect?

Instagram collects data on just about everything you do on the app – posts you view, like, and comment on, and how you interact with its targeted ads. 

If you want to see exactly the data the company has on you, you can request a file containing the data attached to your account. This data can be very insightful and help you understand the way your Instagram feed operates based on all the data it’s collected about you.

Should you request your Instagram data?

Instagram uses your data to show you content it thinks will keep you scrolling on the app and ads that will tempt you to spend money. When you download your data, you can see all the data Instagram collects (it’s a lot) and become more aware of how the algorithm uses your data to get you to engage with it more. 

Instagram allows you to access your data in either a JSON or HTML format. Both types are generally user-friendly and will show you the same data.  I requested the HTML version and found the file to be very straightforward.

To request the downloadable file, you will need to know your Instagram username and password. 

How to request your Instagram data:

  1. Click the icon with three horizontal lines in the corner of your screen.
  2. Click Your Activity.

    Photo by Bess Pierre | TPIN

  3. Click Download Your Information.

    Photo by Bess Pierre | TPIN

  4. Click Request a download.

    Photo by Bess Pierre | TPIN

  5. Select what you would like to download. You can choose to download only certain aspects of your profile, like only your photos and messages, or you can download a complete copy, which will provide you with all of your data.

    Photo by Bess Pierre | TPIN

  6. Verify that the email Instagram has on file is correct. Select between an HTML or JSON format for your data (both are user-friendly and readable by most devices). Select the media quality and the date range of the data you are downloading. Click Submit Request.

    Photo by Bess Pierre | TPIN

It may take up to 30 days to receive the email with the link to the file containing your data. After you receive and open the file, you can save it to your computer and always have access. Depending on how large the file is, it may take up storage space in your memory. I purchased a cheap flash drive, and put all of my social media data on there. 

If you are having trouble requesting your data, or don’t have the password to access your account, you can visit Facebook’s help center, where you can make a case under the Privacy Rights section to receive assistance in accessing your data.

Read: What to know about Threads’ data privacy policy


Anastasia Micich

Intern, Don't Sell My Data campaign

Anastasia Micich is an intern with PIRG's Don't Sell My Data campaign.

R.J. Cross

Director, Don't Sell My Data Campaign, PIRG

R.J. focuses on data privacy issues and the commercialization of personal data in the digital age. Her work ranges from consumer harms like scams and data breaches, to manipulative targeted advertising, to keeping kids safe online. In her work at Frontier Group, she has authored research reports on government transparency, consumer debt and predatory auto lending, and has testified before Congress. Her work has appeared in WIRED magazine, CBS Mornings and USA Today, among other outlets. When she’s not protecting the public interest, she is an avid reader, fiction writer and birder. Though she lives in Boston, she will always consider herself a Kansan at heart.

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staff | TPIN

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