Can you see someone’s activity on Instagram?
By playing with Instagram’s API, I was able to verify that my phone is indeed able to see someone else’s activity on Instagram.
I was particularly interested in knowing how people use Instagram. Are they just uploading personal pictures of their life or are they also using it for work-related stuff? As an example, if you want to know what kind of content Apple is sharing on Instagram.
Just keep in mind that this will only work if you have someone else’s username. If not, I’ll tell you how to find them in the second part of this article. So let’s start!
How it works
I’m going to use Ben Schippers account as an example.
Ben Schippers is an iOS developer at Instagram and he also writes about programming over at nachoparker.com.
At the time of writing, his last three photos were: 1- a screenshot from The Martian movie, 2- a photo of him and his wife and 3- a picture of Dennis Ritchie’s desk from when he wrote the C programming language.
I’m going to use the name of this last picture (the desk) as our search term.
As you may know, Instagram doesn’t let you obtain someone else’s information through their API (you need to use an iOS or Android app). But I already knew that they do provide some statistics about what you last published. There’s even an endpoint where you can see your own activity, so I assumed it would be the same for other people… and it was!
Once I knew that, it was just a matter of fiddling around with their API until I got the right pieces together to build my search query.
What I learned from the experience
Here is what I managed to find out thanks to my script:
– Instagrammers like taking pictures of coffee (probably not a surprise though)
– They like sharing screenshots of their computer screens when they are coding (see Ben Schippers’s last 3 posts). I actually expected this.
– People publish different types of content, depending on the time of day. For example, they are more likely to post images during lunch breaks or after work.
– I didn’t manage to find someone’s username using an email associated with their account BUT if I was willing to keep scraping all the photos that person had ever published, then I could do it.
So, does all this mean that you can see everything someone has ever published on Instagram just by knowing their username? No. You don’t get access to pictures that person may have already removed or that were never made public in the first place. So no “hacking” allowed. But if you look at someone’s Instagram story, you can actually find out their username because it’s written under each post. Share an eye-catching Instagram story of your own and get more clicks to your website! You can also click on the person’s username to get a list of all their posts.