Instagram has rapidly become a popular social media site for those who enjoy sharing their photos. In September 2013, the site reported more than 55 million photos were shared each day on average. Although Instagram is a sharing platform, some people are not comfortable sharing their personal photos with the 150 million average monthly users. Setting posts to private severely restricts who can see your photos, but doing so has both benefits and drawbacks.
Pro: No Strangers See Your Photos
When you set your profile post privacy to private, it prevents strangers from viewing your photos. A private post setting means that the only people who are able to view your photos are those who follow you -- and that is within your control. Other Instagram users who are not already following you must submit a request to do so, and then you can either approve or deny the request. This is the simplest way to keep strangers or people you don't approve from viewing your Instagram photos.
Con: Lack of Followers
If you are trying to grow your number of followers, keeping your posts -- and therefore photos -- private can be a mistake. In many cases, people are moved to become followers because they saw your photo posts and enjoyed them. When you drastically reduce your photo visibility, you are far less likely to have this happen. Additionally, some Instagram followers simply don't want to go through the trouble of requesting permission to follow a profile, something that is necessary for profiles that have private posting enabled.
Pro: Social Media Protection
Social media sites like Instagram and its parent company Facebook have made it easy to share information and photos -- to the point that a single photo could go viral in minutes, placing your photo all over the Internet. Because Instagram and Facebook are now connected, a photo that you place on Instagram could be shared across Facebook rapidly. When you enable profile post privacy, your images are not visible to anyone except your approved followers and your followers are unable to share your photos on other social media sites since the share would return an error page to nonfollowers.
Con: No Newsfeed Exposure
Instagram users who are looking to build a following are not just concerned with followers -- "Likes" are also important. Instagram users may click the "Like" heart dozens of times before they decide to follow a certain profile, so likes may be a precursor to follows. When an Instagram user with a public profile posts a new photo, the photo appears in the Instagram news feed that all Instagram users can access. Further, any specific hashtags that you place on the photo place it in Instagram search results for that phrase. By making your profile and photos private, you lose all that exposure and greatly reduce the potential to get likes on your posted photos.