Instagram Restrict vs Block: Differences, When, and How to Use It

Updated on February 28, 2024

12 min to read

Content Writer

Published May 10, 2023

Instagram Restrict vs Block: Differences, When, and How to Use It
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(Published on May 10, 2023| Updated on September 19, 2023)

Instagram restrict vs. block—what’s the difference?

Social media platforms like Instagram have a variety of useful tools to manage your privacy.

Restricting and blocking are two such tools. 

This guide sheds light on the block vs. restrict function, their differences, and how to use them. 

Let’s jump in!

Table of contents

What you’ll learn:

  • Instagram restrict vs. block: What’s the difference?
  • What does restrict mean on Instagram?
  • What happens if you restrict someone on Instagram?
  • What certain activities does Instagram restrict?
  • How to manage restricted accounts
  • How to unrestrict someone on Instagram
  • What does block mean on Instagram?
  • What happens if you block someone on Instagram?
  • How to manage blocked accounts
  • Tips for managing your client’s Instagram account community
  • FAQs about IG restrict vs. block
  • Grow your Instagram community with Vista Social

Instagram restrict vs. block: What’s the difference?

To clarify the differences between restricting and blocking on Instagram, let’s take a deep dive into what each feature does.

A quick comparison between restrict vs block on Instagram

Let’s kick things off with a quick, side-by-side comparison between blocking and restricting on Instagram:

Instagram restrict vs block 1a

What does restrict mean on Instagram?

There are several ways to limit users on Instagram. When you limit someone: they won’t see if you’re active or if you’ve read their messages. They’re the only ones who can view their new comments on your posts, but you have the option to see them by tapping “See Comment”.

What happens if you restrict someone on Instagram?

So, what happens when you restrict a user on Instagram?

Nothing happens—at least, from that user’s perspective. 

Unlike blocking, restricted users will still be able to see your posts and leave comments. However, they get to keep those comments for themselves. 

That’s right, only they can see what they write on your Instagram content. It will remain invisible to other users and yourself. 

Restricted comments will only show a ‘See comment’ in the comments section. This lets you view comments from restricted users and decide whether or not to reveal them to other users.

While their interactions with your account are limited, restricted users remain followed to your Instagram profile. This makes restricting a more feasible option if you don’t want your community management efforts to affect your follower count.

Sounds pretty handy, right?

Here’s more—a restricted user also won’t be able to view your activity status. From that user’s screen, you’ll appear as permanently inactive and unavailable for a response. 

If you actually read a restricted user’s new messages, they won’t get a “Seen” indicator like with normal users. This is handy if you don’t want them to expect a response and bug you further after you check their message. 

By the way, messages from restricted users will go straight to your message requests inbox. 

What certain activities does Instagram restrict?

When you get a notification from Instagram saying “We restrict certain activity,” it means that your account’s limited from certain actions on the platform, such as liking, commenting, or following other users.

“If somebody is bullying or just putting nasty comments in your Instagram, you don’t necessarily want to block them. You can restrict them. It’s kind of a block — light version.” — Trevor Nace, How-To Apps

How to manage restricted accounts

First, let’s talk about how to restrict accounts. 

You can do this in four places. 

How to restrict accounts through the comments section

1. Launch the Instagram app and open the post with unwanted comments. 

2. Look for the specific user you want to restrict. 

3. Tap on the comment and swipe to the left to reveal the menu. For Android app users, simply tap and hold the comment. 

Swipe to reveal the menu.
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4. Tap the exclamation icon and select ‘Restrict (Username).’ Take note that you can use the same steps to un-restrict the user. 

Restrict the user.
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How to restrict accounts through messages 

1. On the Instagram app, go to the direct messages section by tapping the messenger icon in the top-right corner of your Feed. 

2. Open the chat with the user you want to restrict. 

3. On the conversation page, tap the name of the user at the top of the page. 

4. Tap ‘Options’ in the top menu and select ‘Restrict.’ For Android users, just scroll to the bottom, click ‘Restrict,’ then select ‘Restrict account.’ 

Restrict account.
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How to restrict accounts through their profile

1. Load up the Instagram app and head to the profile of the user you want to restrict. 

2. Tap the three-dot icon in the upper-right corner. 

3. Tap the ‘Restrict’ button to restrict the opened user account.  

Restrict user.
Image Source:

How to restrict accounts through the settings page

1. On the Instagram app, go to your profile page and tap the hamburger menu icon (three horizontal lines). 

2. Tap ‘Settings’ and then head to ‘Privacy.’  

Tap ' Privacy Settings'.
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3. Under “Connections,” go to ‘Restricted accounts.’ If this is your first time restricting users, tap ‘Continue’ after reading the restrict feature overview. 

4. Use the search bar to look for the user accounts you want to restrict. Once you find them just tap the blue ‘Restrict’ button next to the correct user. 

Restrict' button next to the correct user.
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How to unrestrict someone on Instagram

If you wish to un-restrict users, the easiest way is to head back to the ‘Restricted accounts’ page. 

Tap the three-barbar icon in the top right section of your profile, then tap Settings and then Privacy.

Scroll down to “Restricted Accounts”.

There, you’ll find a list of all restricted accounts. Just tap ‘Unrestrict’ next to the user you want to give another chance.

What does block mean on Instagram?

When you block someone on Instagram, that person won’t be able to find your profile, posts, or stories.

This will block their accounts, other existing or new accounts they may create in the future. But if you opt to block someone’s account and the existing ones they already have, this won’t affect the profiles you’re already following.

When should you restrict someone on Instagram?

To sum up, restricting is pretty much a “mute” feature that hides someone’s interactions with you and everyone else. 

It’s handy for a couple of reasons:

  • Someone is being abrasive or downright nasty, but you don’t necessarily want them off your follower list.
  • You don’t want to risk further confrontation if the other user discovers that they’re blocked. 
  • You’re still undecided on how to handle the situation.
  • You want to avoid any negative feelings between you and the restricted user.
  • Some of your followers may be offended by the person’s comments.

On the plus side, restricting on Instagram is a low-risk community management maneuver. 

The user you’ll restrict won’t be able to detect the limitations you implement — and so will others who could’ve seen their comments. At the same time, you’ll avoid any potential backlash from blocking users.

What happens if you block someone on Instagram?

Unlike restricting users, blocking is a more “in your face” way to express that you want nothing to do with a user.

You can block someone on Instagram if you absolutely don’t want anything to do with the other user. 

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This happens when you use the block function:

  • The user won’t be able to find your or your client’s account on Instagram.
  • All their likes and comments will be removed (unblocking them won’t restore these). 
  • They won’t be able to tag or mention your or your client’s account. 
  • You won’t receive and see their direct messages (even if you unblock them). 

Blocking an account also hides its content from your Instagram app. 

So, if you get tired of Elon Musk posers posting pseudo-inspirational stuff, blocking them is a great way to go. 

Only you can unblock users and restore their ability to connect with you or your client. 

If you block someone on Instagram, there’s nothing they can do about it. There’s no Instagram appeal form they can submit or tool they can use to override your decision. 

It’s a foolproof way to deal with trolls and toxic users. 

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How to manage blocked accounts

Similar to restricting, the Instagram block option is done in multiple ways. 

How to block accounts through the comments section

1. Open Instagram and go to the post with a comment from the user you wish to block. 

2. Look for their comment. 

3. Swipe left to reveal the menu and tap the exclamation icon (again, Android users need to tap and hold to show the menu). 

4. Select ‘Block’ and choose one of the two options. You can either block the specified account or block the user and any account they have or create in the future. 

Choose an option.
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5. Tap ‘Block’ to finalize your decision. 

How to block accounts through messages

1. Open the Instagram app and go to the messages section (tap the messenger icon in the upper-right corner. 

2. Find and open the conversation with the user you wish to block. 

3. Tap the person’s profile name.

4. Tap ‘Options’ and select ‘Block’ in the context menu. You will also get to choose to block the user’s present and future accounts or just the specified account. 

Tap to block account.
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How to block accounts through their profile

1. Open up Instagram and go to the profile you want to block. 

2. Pull up the settings menu by tapping the three-dot icon. 

3. Tap ‘Block’ and complete the process by choosing whether to block all their accounts or just one.

Tap to block user.
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How to block accounts through the settings page

1. Open Instagram and go to your or your client’s profile. Tap the three-bar menu icon to go to account settings. 

2. From there, go to ‘Settings,’ select ‘Privacy,’ and swipe down to “Connections.  

3. Go to ‘Blocked accounts.’ 

4. Tap the plus icon in the top-right corner and search for the user you want to block. Once you find them, simply tap the ‘Block’ button. 

Block buttons.
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When should you block someone on Instagram?

There are many reasons to block someone on Instagram. 

Some examples are:

  • You’re blocking a bot that continuously sends spam through DMs and comments.
  • The person you’re blocking continuously harasses you or your followers.
  • You’re cleaning up fake accounts from your followers list.
  • You’re blocking accounts that constantly steal or use your content (or ideas) without your permission. 

Thinking of blocking an account on Instagram?

Don’t be hasty — only do it if you’re absolutely sure.

While Instagram doesn’t directly notify blocked users, they can easily tell that they’re banned. Other users who may be following or participating in the conversation may also notice that the blocked user’s comments are gone.

Tips for managing your client’s Instagram account community

Blocking and restricting accounts may sound counterintuitive in a platform that’s supposed to connect people. However, it’s sometimes a necessity—especially when using them on trolls or users who don’t add value to your clients’ follower base.

Keep in mind, blocking and restricting accounts doesn’t always fix problems. Some groups of users may push the narrative that you’re resorting to censorship to preserve your (or your client’s) brand image.

The good news is, you don’t need to rely on Instagram’s restrict and block feature to maintain a more welcoming community. 

Here are 6 simple tips to help you build more positive connections and keep trolls away:

  • Avoid one-sided interactions. Give the audience opportunities to voice out their concerns outside of regular comments and DMs. Consider asking Instagram poll questions, running quizzes, sharing feedback forms, and paying attention to external reviews.
  • Handle sensitive situations privately. Sometimes, people resort to aggressive or potentially offensive language when they urgently need help. Before blocking or restricting a user, check if they genuinely need your assistance and if you can resolve the issue via DMs. 
  • Hire a community manager. A lot of tensions on social media can be easily de-escalated if you act fast enough. If you’re a business, consider hiring full-time or freelance community managers or moderators to prevent situations that could bring a lot of negative attention. 
  • Consult your client. If you’re a social media manager or agency, keep your clients posted on anything that could have major implications for their image. Streamline your communications by giving them access to your SMM platform.
  • Feature user-generated content. Show the community that you value connections by sharing user-generated content, like reviews, posts with products, and tutorials. You can learn how to make a Reel with photos to compile and publish UGC in a more shareable form (don’t forget to learn the ideal Instagram Reels dimensions while you’re at it).
  • Mold your content strategy for your top followers. For Instagram relationship-building, quality matters just as much—if not more than—quantity. Pay attention to your client’s Instagram following list order and double down on the content types they interact with. 
  • Keep backups of your Instagram content. When it comes to trolls, the worst-case scenario is if someone influential enough weaponizes their reach to “bomb” you with reports. So, consider learning how to save Instagram videos with music, use backup tools, or consolidate all your assets through an SMM platform like Vista Social. 
  • Implement a content approval method. If you’re managing a client’s account, get them involved in the content approval process as an extra layer of protection against problematic posts. You may use Instagram drafts to let clients approve posts manually or onboard them into Vista Social for more streamlined content approvals. 
  • Get creative with interactive posts. Hashtag contests are easy and fun, but there are more creative ways to engage your community and spread positivity all around. For example, learn how to reverse audio on Instagram and have followers guess the title.
  • Set up social media monitoring. Use tools like Vista Social to track mentions of your or your client’s account on social media. This allows you to track inflammatory messages and comments so you can respond accordingly.
  • Respond to negative feedback. Your target audiences are more likely to trust and interact with your brand if you respond to negative feedback. Avoid generic, copy-paste responses, especially if users are clearly upset or frustrated.
  • Centralize your community management efforts. Use an SMM platform like Vista Social to consolidate your community management activities. Using our “Inbox” feature, you can track, manage, and respond to all your social media communications across platforms, including Facebook, X, and Instagram.

“If you look at your following count as your fan base or just a set of numbers that measure how popular you are, then not only are you always going to be focused on your next milestone, but it also just sort of sounds like you are above them. If that’s the kind of dynamic you have with your followers, it’s actually a lot harder to gain their trust.” — Kaya Marriott, Creating With Kaya

Other alternatives to restricting and blocking on Instagram

Let’s face it: the internet can be a really nasty place. 

You can’t control how people decide to communicate online. But there are several ways to deal with online trolls without touching the “restrict” or “block” button.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Maintain a constructive and positive conversation. Address the negative behavior directly and give them a fair warning. Stay constructive, ask if they require assistance, and only consider restricting or blocking them if they willingly remain toxic.
  2. Defuse tension with humor. If users are having a full-scale war in your comments section, try to make light of the situation to calm them down. Do this while still proposing a more positive and beneficial resolution for both sides (i.e. suggest taking a break and continuing the conversation privately when they’re calmer).
  3. Relax before responding. As a social media marketer, you’ve probably encountered countless situations that really tested your patience. Don’t let your own emotions bubble up and influence your work — you can always take a quick break and clear your head before dealing with difficult situations. 

Simply ignore them. In some cases, the best way to deal with internet trolls (without blocking or restricting them) is absolute silence. You might be surprised how far people are willing to go to get the reaction they want — don’t give them that opportunity.

FAQs about IG restrict vs. block

1. Can someone see if you restrict them on Instagram?

No—the Instagram app doesn’t notify users if you restrict their access. On the flip side, you also can’t tell if someone used the restrict feature on your (or your client’s) Instagram profile. 

2. What happens when you restrict someone on Instagram?

The Instagram restrict feature will hide your active status and the “read” indicator in direct messages. This is useful if you wish to avoid unwanted interactions with certain followers or users.

3. Do restricted messages show as read?

No, restricted users won’t be able to tell if you’ve seen their messages or not. However, they’re free to send more messages at any time.

4. Can restricted accounts see my Story?

Yes—a restricted person can see your Instagram Stories, Reels, and posts normally. The restriction feature only hides their comments and interactions from the rest of Instagram.

5. How do you remove someone from seeing your Story on Instagram?

You can hide your Story by adjusting its privacy settings prior to posting. Blocking also works in hiding your Story from specific individuals (but not restricting).

6. What’s the difference between IG restrict vs. block

You can either block or unblock an Instagram Account at any time unless they’ve blocked you.  ‘Restricted’ versus ‘blocked’ on Instagram differs greatly. While a blocked account can’t contact or reach you in any way, a restricted account can still see your posts and comments, but only visible to both of you.

7. How to stop someone from seeing your posts on Instagram without blocking

Several options to screen a post from someone on Instagram without blocking them include: changing your profile to a private account, muting the account, changing privacy options in settings, removing the account from your followers list, or archiving specific posts.

Grow your Instagram community with Vista Social

Vista Social is packed with all the tools you need to stay on top of conversations, monitor stats, and optimize your content publishing strategy. 

Our inbox feature lets you stay on top of conversations across all channels. You can also use our content performance reports and “best posting time” suggestions to fine-tune your strategy to the target audience’s preferences. 

Give us a try by creating a free trial here—you won’t be disappointed!

About the Author

Content Writer

Jimmy Rodela is a social media and content marketing consultant with over 9 years of experience, with work appearing on sites such as, Yahoo, SEMRush, and SearchEnginePeople. He specializes in social media, content marketing, SaaS, small business strategy, marketing automation, and content development.

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