Instagram keeps a detailed list of everything it thinks you're interested in — here's how to find it
- Instagram compiles a list of topics it thinks you're interested in inside the Instagram app itself, which is used to show you relevant ads.
- You can check the list for yourself with just a few taps into some of the Instagram app's deeper settings.
- My own list of supposed interests starts out accurate, but some missed the mark.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
You can see what Instagram thinks you're interested in by going into the app's deeper settings options.
The list of interests is, of course, related to ads and ad data. Instagram says your ad interests are based on a combination of who you follow, what posts you like or comment on, and other websites and apps you use. If you have a Facebook account, Instagram pulls data from there, too.
I checked my own list of topics that Instagram thinks I'm interested in, and it's a little confusing. I'm not particularly interested in many of the topics in the list that Instagram has built for me.
For example, I'm not especially interested in tattoos, or physical fitness, and I really don't care much about video games at all. Instagram definitely knows me well from my first interest, though: online shopping. I've clicked through enough Instagram ads, and follow enough influencers who tag all their clothes, to see how that one ended up in my interests.
You can check your own list of topics of interest that Instagram has compiled about you to see if it's accurate. Here's how.
Antonio Villas-Boas contributed to an earlier version of this post.
From the Instagram home page, tap the profile icon on the bottom right.
Then, tap the menu icon on the top right.
Next, tap "Settings" ...
... select "Security" ...
... and hit "Access Data."
You'll need to scroll all the way down and tap "View All" under "Ads Interests."
There, you'll be able to see what kinds of topics Instagram thinks you're interested in. There are dozens of interests on the list — just keeping tapping "View More" and the list will fill in.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, categorizes users by their interests to more easily sell their data to advertisers. Websites like Facebook and Instagram collect users' interests, along with demographics like age and gender, to determine what ads they will see. A recent article in The Cut looked at how ads break down by gender, where women tend to see disproportionately more ads for bras, home decor, and supplements, just to name a few. These definitely check out with my experiences, too.
Facebook has faced criticism and legal trouble for how it has used this data in the past. Facebook was involved in several scandals over mishandling customer data, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress to talk about how data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica improperly gained access to the data. Facebook can even follow what you buy in physical stores.
More recently, one of Instagram's partners, Hyp3r, was able to collect user location data and secretly save their stories, a practice which only stopped after Business Insider reported on it.
If you don't want to see ads based on your data like this, you're in luck. This summer, Facebook introduced a feature that shows where ads come from, and allows you to opt out of targeted ads under your settings. Those settings then carry over to Instagram.
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