Plagiarism, in any form is a threat to the community of publishers and discourages the principles of open and free sharing of resources. Instagram, being one of the most widely used apps for sharing of photos online, is no wonder vulnerable to such threats. In this post, I’ll be sharing tips on how to do reverse image search for instagram and track the offenders.
Reverse Image Search: If are coming across this phrase for the first time, I’ll encourage you to read my recent post on reverse image search. Not only, you’ll understand the basics, but also methods to track image plagiarism. Now, let’s discuss how we can track plagiarism on instagram through reverse image search.
Can you do reverse image search on Instagram?
I’ll answer this clearly: No. As of now, there is no way that you can do this with instagram itself. Unlike Google Images and TinEye, Instagram as a social media app is not capable of performing reverse image queries. So what’s the recourse? You’ll have to rely on third party search engines like Google Images, TinEye & Pixsy. I’ve already discussed about these reverse image engines at great length in my previous post. But let’s quickly see how to do this again:
1.Google Images (works on desktop only)
Visit Google Images website and there you’ll see a small camera icon right on the search bar. You’ll have to click on this icon and upload your instagram photo that you wish to track for possibilities of plagiarism.
Note: Instagram blocks all the search engines from indexing the photos and videos of its users. However, it is still a possibility for Google to index your instagram photos and videos if you grant it access to instagram API while using the web version of Instagram.
TinEye is another reverse image search engine which directly relies on image detection technology rather than other image-embedded attributes like keywords, metadata and EXIF information. Visit TinEye, upload your desired instagram photo and hit the search button. That’s it. TinEye will show all the sources where your instagram photo has appeared.
What makes Pixsy a little different from other utilities of this category is that not only does it perform reverse image search but also helps you take appropriate action against the offenders. Here are a few screenshots of Pixsy at work:
How are your instagram photos plagiarized?
Now let’s understand the root cause of the problem: Why did the need for reverse image search on Instagram arise? How are your instagram photos plagiarized at the very first place? Well, there can be two direct causes behind such plagiarism:
- Someone directly copying your images from Instagram
- Search engines/third party apps indexing your photos and making them susceptible to unauthorized use
Three ways to avoid unauthorized use of your Instagram photos online:
In the digital world, it’s always better to review your privacy settings than to feel sorry. You can avoid such problems with instagram by following these tips:
- Always watermark your photos before publishing them online. Watermarking is a way to claim your full copyrights.
- Make your instagram account private, so that your photos/videos appear only to those followers who you have approved. However, this implies less exposure to your work because even with hashtags your photos will appear to only approved followers.
- If you’re using the web version of Instagram, do cross-check the list of authorized applications which have access to your Instagram API. Immediately revoke access to an suspicious app.
How to report image theft on Instagram?
Instagram has its own copyright policies. Once you’ve caught the offenders either directly or by using any one of the above mentioned methods, you can request him/her to immediately remove the copyrighted images. If this attempt fails, you can report the violation directly to Instagram. The app provides a very convenient way to report this through a copyright report form. Alternatively, you can also directly contact the Instagram designated agent for protection of copyrights here:
I hope that this article helps you understand the basics of reverse image search with Instagram. If you find this article helpful, please do comment and share. Still have some questions/queries? I’ll be more than happy to address your concerns in the comments below.