You think you’re good at Instagram lurking? There’s always room to be sneakier.
The most proficient lurkers among us — people we both revere and fear, to be honest — have devised truly impressive ways to Insta-skulk without being detected. We’re not talking basic stuff like “use desktop Instagram,” either. The methods below will require a little effort, but you’ll probably find them useful, whether you’re keeping tabs on your crush or your sworn enemy. (These, of course, are the only two types of people anyone lurks.)
To be clear, we’re not suggesting that you do these things. We are merely explaining that they are possible, and that if you wanted to do them it would be within your reach. That’s all!
The repurposed finsta
The “finsta” or dark Instagram, is a separate account which users accept very few followers, then post whatever they want — niche memes, gratuitous selfies, personal anecdotes — without worrying about judgement or how many likes their posts will get.
But the finsta can also be a strong lurking tool. If it’s unclear to whom an account belongs, the people you’re lurking are less likely to notice it watching their Stories or, in the event you make a mistake, accidentally liking one of their posts from 2012. To truly protect your identity, however, you’ll need to ensure that the person you’re lurking doesn’t follow any of the people who follow your finsta — if they do, those people will appear under your finsta’s bio (in the “Followed by” section), making you easier to identify. The person you’re lurking will also need to have a public account for this to work.
And, of course, they might notice.
I was lurking on this guys story from my finsta and he requested to follow it so I’m feeling very called out
Want even more of a cloak? Take it a step further. One user, who asked to remain anonymous, explained that she periodically changes her finsta handle to something that seems like a bot — “new_followers_now200k,” as a hypothetical example — to prevent suspicion when she wants to watch people’s Stories covertly.
The pleasant meme account
If you don’t want to use your finsta for nefarious purposes, you could also create another account entirely. A highly specialized meme or lifestyle account, for example, is unlikely to make the people you lurk suspicious — especially if your account gains a following in its own right.
For example, one such user (also anonymous) said she usually lurks one person on an account created originally for niche bubble content.
“It used to be an account for pretty bubbles,” she explained, “and now it’s an account for revenge.”
For her, this particular lurking method was born from necessity. Since the person she wants to lurk (an enemy, she explained) has her regular account blocked, she had to use another to see her posts at all. The bubble account, which had fallen dormant anyway, fit the bill.
So far, it’s working, she said — the person “doesn’t seem to notice the bubble account watching her Stories.”
The small peek
Perhaps you’re not sure if you want to take the plunge and view someone’s Instagram story. (After all, they will know you’ve seen it.) This is a good time to employ the “peek” method.
Stories appear on your timeline back-to-back, letting you know in what order they will appear when you start watching your queue. So, once you find the story you’re interested in, click on the one before it. Then — once you’re on the last frame — pause the story, and partially swipe to the left and the first frame of the next story will start to appear. You need to have a very, very delicate touch here, though: Don’t swipe all the way or you’ll be counted as having viewed the story
If you don’t follow the person whose story you want to watch, peeking will be a bit more difficult.
If you don’t follow the person whose story you want to watch, peeking will be a bit more difficult. You’ll have to wait for their story to appear on your Explore page — which, if you have their phone number or have friends in common, it probably will. Then, follow the same steps above, though you’ll need to be cool with publicly viewing the story that shows up before theirs.
Of course, there’s a huge caveat here, which is that you can only watch the first frame of the story you’re interested in. But the peek can be a useful way to determine whether you want to take the plunge and watch the whole story.
The third-party approach
Yes, there are numerous apps and websites (we’ll let you Google them for yourself, but it’s extremely easy) that allow you to search for and retrieve Instagram Stories anonymously. You know how stan accounts always seem to have full downloads of celebrities’ disappearing content? They’re probably using one of these tools.
Still, employ them with caution: Make sure you’re logged out of Instagram on desktop before you search, and pay close attention to what you’re clicking on. We can’t vouch for any of these websites’s safety, so we’d recommend trying one of the methods above before taking the plunge.