From IndieWeb

A private account is a silo account where all posts on its profile are private, and only approved followers (or friends) can see posts.

Typical private account support:

  • is purely binary, that is either all your posts are public or all of them are private.
  • following a private account creates a request for approval, which then must be explicitly approved
  • switching from a public account to a private account keeps existing followers (and friends)


Why use (or switch to) a private account?

Prefer IndieWeb

Make people prefer IndieWeb. E.g. If you make your Instagram account private, but post your photos publicly on your own site, it encourages people to (re)share your public photo post permalinks instead of links to your photos on Instagram.

This is true for all kinds of posts wherever you POSSE them.

If you make your silo account private but post publicly on your own site, it encourages people to (re)share your public post permalinks instead of links to your POSSE copies.

More: Tantek Çelik: Going Silo-Private to Prefer the IndieWeb, Leave Silo Publics, and Pioneer Privacy on the Independent Web

Why Instagram Private Account

Why make your Instagram account private in addition to the general reasons above

  • Step toward Instagram just as client. Making your Instagram account private is one step towards a world where you (only or primarily) use Instagram as a client for posting photos to your site, rather than a place for others to see your photos.
  • Eliminate like and comment spam. There are tons of spam accounts on Instagram that do nothing but like and comment on your photos in the hopes that you will click through to their profiles and click their URLs, or people viewing your photos will do so! Going private prevents such drive-by like or comment spam.
  • Unfriendly API changes. Instagram is becoming increasingly unfriendly (less open) with their API changes (details).

Why only sometimes

Why only sometimes use a private account?

Or rather, why sometimes flip a private account into a public account for a brief period of time?

There are some use-cases to publishing on public social media accounts, e.g. discovery, especially from your hashtags, and in particular before/during/right-after an event that uses a specific hashtag.

One possibility

  • Private account by default, public for events that you’re participating in.
    • E.g. before an event, right before you post something related to that event (e.g. with its hashtags), switch your account to public, then keep it public for the duration of the event, and perhaps a week or so after, however long it takes to post the photos about/from that event so others who participated can more easily find and connect with you.

Silo Examples


Instagram has a private account feature in its "OPTIONS" screen accessible from your profile (lower right button in their native apps).

  • Private account ( *)

(need screenshot)


  • public to private change:
    • existing likes by non-followers appear to persist (though it's not clear how those non-followers could view those photos)
  • private status is not visible to followers

viewed by a follower:

viewed logged out:


Twitter supports a private account feature as well.

  1. Go to Settings: (needs screenshot)
  2. Click on "Security and Privacy" in the left column

Then in the right column of "Privacy" settings in particular: (needs screenshot)

  1. See where it says "Tweet privacy"
  2. Check "[✓] Protect my Tweets" where it says just below it:

    If selected, only those you approve will receive your Tweets. Your future Tweets will not be available publicly. Tweets posted previously may still be publicly visible in some places. Learn more.

    (needs screenshot)
  3. Scroll down to the bottom and click [Save Changes]

(need screenshot)

Native retweets are disabled on private account tweets.


Facebook does not have a single "private account" on/off switch, but rather finer grained privacy controls per post, posts by default, etc. For more details, and how to set posts to private by default, old public posts to private, see:

IndieWeb Examples


Tantek Çelik switched all his silo accounts to private, or default private posts on 2016-048.

  • Since then (~2018?) he switched his Twitter & Instagram to public again to participate in public conversations around in-person events with hashtags, and to allow public resharing/quoting of his posts on those sites

See Also