I Accidentally Followed Someone on Instagram: Now What?

Have you ever had an “oops” moment on social media and accidentally followed someone on Instagram, only to unfollow them seconds later in a panic? We’ve all been there.

As an avid Instagram user, you follow and unfollow accounts frequently to curate your feed, but occasionally a mis-tap leads to an unintentional follow of an acquaintance, colleague, or even an ex.

Before you start stressing about whether they received a notification and now think you’re stalking them, relax. Instagram’s algorithms and settings have you covered.

Here’s what you need to know about accidental follows and how to avoid future social media faux pas.

Unlikely to Be Noticed: Accidental Instagram Follow/Unfollow

If you followed them for only seconds, it is unlikely that they’ll notice the notification

If you accidentally follow someone on Instagram and then unfollow them a few seconds later, try not to worry – they likely won’t notice. Instagram users follow and unfollow accounts all the time, so one brief follow is unlikely to stand out or be seen as strange behaviour.

  • Your follow was only for a few seconds. The chances of them seeing your profile in their notifications in that short time span are very small. By the time they check their notifications, your followers will have disappeared.
  • They probably receive many new followers each day. A single follow and unfollow will get lost in the crowd and go unnoticed. Unless they keep close track of their follower count, one small change won’t register.
  • They may not check their notifications or follower list regularly. Many Instagram users only check these sections occasionally or when they post new content. If they’re not actively monitoring followers, they won’t see yours at all.
  • Generally, unfollowing happens on Instagram. People follow accounts for many reasons and then change their minds. One unfollow means little and is considered normal platform behaviour.
  • Your profile may not stand out to them. Unless they know you personally or you have a very memorable profile, you likely won’t be recognizable or make an impression after just a few seconds. They won’t have a reason to question an unfollow from an account they barely noticed in the first place.

Did They Get A Notification?

instagram notification
If you follow and unfollow, then they might get a notification.

If you accidentally follow someone on Instagram and then unfollow them within a few seconds, there is a chance they will receive a notification about your follow. Instagram sends follow notifications to users in batches, not necessarily in real-time.

This means that even if you unfollow someone quickly, the notification may have already been queued to be sent to them. However, the good news is they likely won’t think much of an immediate unfollow.

When you follow someone on Instagram, they receive a notification on the app and via email (if they have that feature enabled) that you started following them.

Notifications like these are meant to help users stay engaged with their followers and the accounts they care about. The notification will display your username and profile photo, indicating you recently followed them.

Even though they received an initial follow notification, when you unfollow shortly thereafter, Instagram does not send an “unfollow” notification to inform them you are no longer following them or have changed your mind. The following notification remains in their inbox, but your username will no longer appear in their list of followers if they check.

Do They Know Who Followed Them?

A Youtube video on Instagram notifications

When you follow someone on Instagram, they typically receive an automated notification letting them know about the new follower, which would be you. Even if you unfollow them shortly after, there is still a chance they saw the notification pop up on their phone before you unfollowed them.

However, if they did not have the Instagram app open at that exact moment, the notification may get buried under other alerts and go unseen.

Their Follower Count May Temporarily Increase

The number of followers displayed on someone’s Instagram profile updates in real-time. So if you follow them, even for just a few seconds, their follower count will increase by one. When you unfollow them, their number will then decrease by one.

Some users monitor their follower count closely and may notice even small, temporary fluctuations. However, for accounts with thousands of followers, a single follow/unfollow may go undetected.

They Can See Your Profile in Their Notifications Tab

In the notifications tab of the Instagram app, the person you followed will see your username listed as a new follower, even after you unfollow them. The notification may stick around for a day or two before disappearing from their tab.

During that time, they have the option to tap on your username to view your profile. If they do so, they will then realize you are no longer following them. However, many people do not frequently check their older Instagram notifications, so they may miss seeing your profile listed there altogether.

Your Username May Appear in Their Search

For a short period, your username may populate as a suggested account when the person you followed searches for new people to follow on Instagram.

But as the platform’s algorithms update, your username should drop from their search results within a couple of hours of unfollowing. Unless they perform a search for new followers soon after you follow them, they likely won’t come across your profile this way.

What to Do Next Time You Accidentally Follow Someone?

Instagram app on phone
Take it easy

Taking responsibility, apologizing when needed, and being more mindful are constructive ways to handle the situation properly. With extra care and consideration, accidental follows do not need to be a common occurrence.

Double-Check Before FollowingThe next time you go to follow someone on Instagram, take an extra second to ensure it is actually the account you intend to follow. It is easy to accidentally tap the “follow” button, especially if you have larger fingers or are quickly scrolling through the app. Double-checking the username and profile photo can help avoid an accidental follow.
Unfollow ImmediatelyIf you do end up accidentally following an account, unfollow it as soon as you realize your mistake. The sooner you unfollow, the less likely the other user is to receive a notification about your follow.
Instagram notifications are not always instant, so a quick unfollow may remove you from their notifications before they ever appear.
Apologize Politely (If Needed)If the other user comments on your accidental follow or messages you about it, politely apologize for your mistake. Explain that you did not mean to follow them and unfollow them as soon as you noticed. Most users will understand that accidental follows happen.
However, you want to take responsibility for your mistake in a courteous manner. A simple “Sorry for the accidental follow. My mistake.” can go a long way.
Be More Mindful Going ForwardLearn from your experience and be extra mindful when following accounts in the future. Take the time to ensure you are following the correct username to avoid repeating the same mistake. While accidental follows can happen to anyone, being more deliberate and double-checking the details can help reduce their frequency. With time and practice, checking before following can become second nature.
Following these steps can help remedy an accidental Instagram follow and prevent similar mistakes from happening again in the future.


  • In the end, following someone by accident on Instagram is not the end of the world. While the person may receive a notification about your follow, if you unfollow quickly, they likely won’t think much of it or remember.
  • However, if it’s someone you know or interacts with regularly, they may wonder why you followed and then unfollowed so swiftly.
  • In those cases, it may be best to send a quick message explaining it was an accident to avoid any awkwardness.
  • The key is to not overthink it or worry excessively after the fact. Take a deep breath and move on – your social media reputation will remain intact.

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