What is vanish mode on Instagram?

The internet may never forget, but Instagram will.

In 2020, the platform introduced a new chat feature: vanish mode. When activated, messages in a chat disappear after the recipient reads them.

With this update, you can protect yourself from others screenshotting and sharing your conversations without your knowledge and enjoy a sense of security while messaging online. Read on to learn all about vanish mode and its benefits.

What is vanish mode on Instagram?

Instagram’s vanish mode allows users to send self-destructing messages – not unlike Snapchat’s popular feature. It’s like incognito mode on your web browser: the app doesn’t retain your private chats in vanish mode. Instead, they disappear for both participants once the other user reads them and exits the chat (or vanish mode).

Vanish mode is only available in one-on-one conversations – sorry, but you can’t use it in group chats. The feature can be turned on for both participants by one person in the chat, but either party can exit at any time.

Why you should use vanish mode

Most of us message online every day. In 2022, an estimated 3 billion people used messaging apps like Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp to communicate with others. Facebook Messenger may be the top mobile messaging app at the time of writing, but millennials use Instagram 47% of the time.

Privacy is a significant concern for those on social media. Among mobile users, the most pressing concerns around online privacy revolve around disclosing sensitive personal data. If you worry about the safety and confidentiality of the messages you share on Instagram, vanish mode is a comforting feature to ease those concerns.

Here are vanish mode’s benefits:

  • Protecting your data: Messages in vanish mode aren’t stored in your chat histories. This means your conversations are less likely to be exposed by third parties via data breaches or snooping.
  • Staying safe: In addition to being limited to one-on-one chats, vanish mode is restricted to people who follow each other on Instagram to prevent strangers from sending unsolicited and disappearing Instagram DMs.
  • Maintaining privacy: If you don’t trust the user you’re communicating with and fear they may share your messages without consent, vanish mode is your friend. While it’s important to understand that users can screenshot content sent in vanish mode or take a photo with an external device, Instagram will notify you if the other person screenshots the conversation before the messages are erased.
  • Keeping others from sensitive information: If you’re concerned that someone who has access to your account will check your DMs and discover something they shouldn’t, turning on vanish mode is a good idea. For example, if your friend has your phone password and you’re planning a surprise party for them, it’s best to use disappearing messages.

How to turn on vanish mode on Instagram

Do you feel you can benefit from this privacy feature? Here’s how to turn on vanish mode on your mobile device:

1. Open the Instagram mobile app and log in to your account.

A white image showing five blurred profile icons and usernames. The Instagram name is in the left corner. The icons for creating a new post, viewing likes and sending DMs are in the right corner of the screen, indicated by a red square.

2. Go to your inbox by clicking on the chat icon in the upper right corner.

A white image showing how to create a new message in Instagram’s chat feature.

3. Select an existing conversation or create a new DM conversation with the person you wish to message in vanish mode.

A white image showing a partially complete circle. Underneath are the words “Swipe up to turn on vanish mode.” At the bottom of the image, there’s a “Message…” bar.

4. Once inside the conversation, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and hold until the circle above the words “Swipe up to turn on vanish mode” is complete, then release your finger to activate vanish mode.

A black image showing the text “You turned on vanish mode.” Beneath, in smaller text, are the words “Seen messages will disappear when you close the chat” and a white “Learn more” button. There are four yellow “shushing” emojis. Below them reads, “See 1 other message.” The last text reads, “Swipe up to turn off vanish mode.” At the bottom of the image, there’s a “Message…” bar.

5. Once activated, Instagram will go into dark mode, and shushing emojis will fall from the top of your screen to indicate you have successfully turned on vanish mode.

How to turn off vanish mode on Instagram

You’ve had your private conversation, and you no longer want messages to vanish, meaning it’s time to restore your DMs to normal. Here’s how to turn off vanish mode on Instagram:

1. From your inbox page in the Instagram app, select the chat where vanish mode is enabled. (To the far right of the conversation preview will be a circle made up of a dashed line.)

A black image showing a complete circle and the words “Release to turn off vanish mode” below. At the bottom of the image, there’s a “Message…” bar.

2. Swipe up from the bottom of the chat until a circle and the text “Swipe up to turn off Vanish Mode.”

3. Hold until the circle above the words is complete, then release your finger to deactivate vanish mode.

Vanish mode FAQs

Still have questions about how to use this chat feature? Here are the answers to common queries.

1. Can vanish mode delete old messages?

No, the feature won’t hide messages sent outside of vanish mode. As soon as vanish mode is turned off, you’ll return to your normal conversation. Any messages sent before and after vanish mode can only be deleted manually by unsending them.

2. What makes vanish mode different from unsending messages?

Unlike the feature that allows you to unsend and delete messages on Instagram, vanish mode automatically wipes conversations sent while the feature is turned on. To unsend DMs, you need to do so one at a time. When a message is unsent, Instagram will notify the recipient that the message has been removed. On the other hand, vanish mode doesn’t notify either user about destroyed messages.

3. Can I still report messages in vanish mode?

Yes, users can still report messages sent in vanish mode, even after they’re erased. You can block a person and report any message that makes you feel unsafe, regardless of whether or not the conversation took place in vanish mode. Unlike Facebook Messenger’s vanish mode, Instagram users have 14 days to report disappeared messages, where the messages or conversations will be decrypted and sent to Instagram’s Help Team for review. If you report a message more than 14 days after it disappears, your report won’t include that message. Reports are anonymous, and Instagram will not notify the reported users about the origin of the complaint.

Enhance your Instagram experience with Linktree

Disappearing messages are far from Instagram’s only fun feature. Linktree can keep you updated on other tips and tricks, including hiding your likes, muting other accounts and screenshot Stories.

And don’t forget to make the most of your profile. Adding a Linktree to your Instagram bio allows you to direct your followers to other platforms like Twitter, TikTok and a personal website in just a few characters.


6 mins

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