How To Perform a Reverse Image Search in Instagram
By the latest estimates, nearly a billion people use Instagram every month. That makes it one of the most used apps in the world, second only to YouTube. Whether you want to see if someone is reusing your pictures, or want to find a profile from a photo, your best bet is to do a reverse image search.
There are many services that can perform a reverse image search for you. However, certain complications (explained below) make some less effective than others with Instagram. Keep reading to see the best methods for conducting your search.
A Quick Word
A big change was implemented in 2018, making this process more difficult than it otherwise would be. Due to privacy concerns, Instagram switched to a new API platform. This triggered a slew of problems for applications that interact with Instagram.
In relation to image searching on Instagram, this presents another specific problem. Instagram’s new API is private, which means that services don’t have access to photos on Instagram as they did before. This is mostly a good thing as it pertains to user’s data, but you should lower your expectations when using the image search tools listed here.
TinEye is a powerful web crawler that specializes in image searching. The database is constantly updated and has one of the best success rates for reverse image lookups. You can drag and drop an image directly into the search field if you’re on a desktop/laptop computer, or upload an image from your mobile device. There is also an option to reverse image search using the image’s URL.
Once you upload your image and hit the search button, you’ll see all the instances of the image on the web in a few seconds. Furthermore, once the search is completed you can restrict it to a specific domain, as well as use various filters to refine your search parameters. The main selling point for TinEye is the power and reach of its specialized database.
Google Image Search
No list of search techniques would be complete without the granddaddy of all image searches: Google Images. It has a reverse search function that uses the same powerful algorithms that Google employs elsewhere. To use it from a desktop or mobile browser, access the site and click on the Images button under the search bar. The search bar will allow you to paste an image’s URL or upload it.
Google will tie the image to a possible related search term to widen the results and then show you every instance of the picture it finds. It will also perform a search for visually similar images and these results will be displayed as well. Look for pictures from the instagram.com domain.
Bing Image Search
Bing has the reputation of being second fiddle to Google. However, If you think Bing is a waste of time, don’t be so sure. A different search algorithm may produce different results so it won’t hurt to try. As an added bonus, Bing’s image search is much more aesthetically pleasing than Google’s.
The process is nearly identical to the Google image search. Go to Bing’s Image Feed and click on the Images tab in the search bar. You’re likely to get similar results from Bing, but you also might get lucky.
SauceNAO may not win any awards for the beauty of its interface or ease of use, that’s for sure. But, it crawls some very particular areas of the web and may be better if you want a more manageable set of search results.
On the site, you’ll find the “Choose File” button to upload your photo and then click “get sauce” to perform the search. This is admittedly a bit of a long shot, but it’s better than nothing and you can always refer to it when you’re having trouble reverse-searching any image.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I find an Instagram profile with a photo?
Using one of the methods above, if you perform a search with a non-related photo, you should get results with similar images. Clicking on each of these may give you an Instagram URL to visit. If not, the other user’s Instagram page may be private meaning their photos will not be available via one of the search engines. It’s still certainly worth a try of course.
What do I do if I find out someone else is using my photo as their own?
Instagram has very strict terms and conditions for stealing someone else’s creative content. If someone else has taken your photos and you want them to take them down, the first step may be to contact the owner of the account and ask them to remove the images or give you credit for them. If they don’t comply, or you don’t feel comfortable contacting them, your next step should be reporting the stolen images to Instagram. You can tap on their post or visit the Instagram Help Center. Provide as many details as you can including the URL to your original upload and perhaps a screenshot of theirs. Assuming Instagram finds fault with the other account, the user may receive a warning, their post taken down, or even an account ban.
Ever since the API changes happened on Instagram, many applications and services have shut their doors. The simple truth is that there is no foolproof way to do reverse image searches on Instagram. The methods described here will give you the best chance at success but aren’t guaranteed to work. If you’re concerned about plagiarism, consider other methods such as watermarks to protect your work.
Tell us in the comments which search method you found the most success with. Do you think Instagram should have a native reverse image search feature?