Social Media: How to Take Control 

By Áine McCormack, M.A.

Social media platforms may try to force our lives around like a playground bully, but there are times when you may want to take back control and perhaps delete social media accounts. Whether you may miss the days of anonymity, or you might want to reclaim your privacy from companies, or the account is dated, or maybe you simply aren’t interested anymore, there are many reasons why people would choose to delete their accounts.

But what if you no longer have access to the credentials you used to create the account? Or what if you are responsible for removing the profile for a family member who has passed on? These very common what-ifs could present obstacles.

A majority of social media networks have steps in place to remove profiles. Áine McCormack is Hg’s in-house specialist on access-gaining requests. In this five-part blog series, she helps readers gain access to five social media platforms: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. This week we tackle Instagram.


As with Facebook, Instagram requires that in order to remove an account you must have the email account or the mobile phone number that was used to create the account. Instagram policy states that, due to security reasons, Instagram cannot remove an account for you. If you are having trouble logging into your account, open the Instagram app and click on the Need more help? tab. From there, follow the prompts to contact Instagram. You’ll likely be asked for information regarding the account, such as past passwords, recovery information, and more.

Another method to help you log into your Instagram account would be if it is connected to Facebook. (Facebook took over Instagram ownership in 2012.) If it is, then log into your Instagram account through Facebook and then delete the Instagram account from there.

If you need to remove an Instagram account that is impersonating you, report the offense to support@ and include a photo of yourself with your government issued ID. Online reports have shown that some users have had success removing old and inactive profiles of theirs in this manner.

Instagram gives users the option to remove or memorialize a person’s account. Send an email to with the details of the person’s account asking to either remove or memorialize the profile. An Instagram representative should reply by email asking for proper documentation, such as proof that you are an immediate family member, and the deceased’s birth certificate or death certificate. As another option to specifically remove a deceased person’s profile, you can fill out a Removal Request for Deceased Person on Instagram form found on Instagram’s Help page.

Check back next week when we review the process of removing yourself from Twitter.

Are you an analyst or investigator looking for advanced training on the latest protocols to spotlight the brightest and best in social media monitoring for protective intelligence? If so, check out Hg’s webinar series, where you can attend live sessions and receive CEUs or watch previously recorded sessions to beef up your OSINT & SOCMINT skills.


Are you looking for an investigative team to help you unearth information on a potential business partner? Acquisition? Hetherington Group leads in online and social media investigations, having trained over 180,000 corporate security professionals, attorneys, accountants, auditors, military intelligence professionals, and federal, state, and local agencies in Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and Social Media Intelligence (SOCMINT). Our skilled analysts excel at exposing financial risks, reputational issues, criminal activity, and legal actions detrimental to your personal and business stability. Learn how our team can arm you with the data you need.

Áine McCormack, MA joined Hetherington Group in 2017 as an Investigative Analyst and Case Manager. With her keen ability to understand and summarize large amounts of information in a concise manner, she communicates to our clients exactly what they need to know, when they need to know it. Her primary tasks involve specialist desktop research and analyses of public record and open source information in support of business due diligence and other investigative projects.