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Instagram no longer allows people without an account to view photos and videos on computers

Print do Instagram aberto no Safari para macOS pedindo login para exibir uma foto.

Instagram raised the wall that separates people who do not have an account from those who do. Since at least April 21st, Instagram doesn’t allow unregistered people to view photos and videos from public profiles on computers and tablets.

Public profiles, those that don’t have the padlock that restricts content to registered followers, have always been accessible regardless of login. Not anymore.

Several tests made by Manual do Usuário showed that access to photos and videos by unlogged people is only working on mobile phones. When trying to see something from a public profile on a computer or tablet, they are presented with a login and registration form.

Print do Instagram pedindo login no navegador Chrome no Windows.
In Chrome, on a Windows computer, the error occurs.

Tests were conducted on Windows and macOS computers, in different Brazilian cities, with mobile and domestic internet connections, in multiple browsers, and with ad-blocking extensions disabled. In all cases, the blockage persisted.

Changing the browser’s “user-agent”, a kind of public identifier that informs sites the type of device that is accessing them, changes Instagram’s behavior. When a computer browser is identified as a mobile phone (Android or iPhone), photos and videos open normally. The following video demonstrates this:

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Thus, photos and videos published on Instagram’s feed now work as stories, which have always been restricted to people logged into Instagram.

Many small businesses and professionals use Instagram as their only point of contact with customers, a fact that makes this change troublesome for those who, for whatever reason, do not have and do not intend to have an account there.

I have contacted Instagram asking about this change. Until this publication, there had been no answer. If that changes, I will update this post.

Updated: Instagram answered my request. “If you are not logged in Instagram, you may only see a certain amount of posts on public profiles before being asked to login”, they said. “This is to help people view photos in Instagram and understand how to have the best experience on the platform, be part of the community, connecting and interacting with people and the things they love”.

This is a different issue. Since at least November 2019, viewing of public post is limited when a person not logged scrolls the page a bit — see this report from The Next Web. What is new is a much more restrict limit, which doesn’t allow unlogged people to see even one photo or video.

Manual do Usuário is a Brazilian independent tech blog that only publishes original reporting, mostly in Portuguese, but once in a while in English as well. If you want to be notified about future posts in English, please subscribe to our free newsletter. Your email address will never be transferred, shared or sold:

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  1. Easy to bypass:
    – Use tools like instalooter/instascraper, or
    – Use a chrome extension like ‘User-Agent Switcher’, or
    – Install TamperMonkey extension & install these 2 scripts from 1) Image Max URL, 2) Facebook and Instagram login popup remover by StephenP

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!