How to Block Ads on Instagram: An Expert Guide

Sponsored ads on Instagram can be annoying but also actively malicious. Fortunately, it's quite easy to remove them from your feed. Learn how to do it in this expert guide.
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Targeted ads can clutter your Instagram feed and ruin the whole experience. Instagram should be about browsing content you enjoy, not wading through repetitive ads. Moreover, some can hide malware or set you up for elaborate phishing scams.

Using a solid ad blocker is the best way to remove Instagram ads from your feed. Depending on your user profile, you might have additional options. Keep reading to learn how to block Instagram ads, and check our recommended tools.

In this article
Instagram ads explained
How to block ads on Instagram
Can Instagram ads be dangerous
How to block ads on Instagram FAQs
Bottom line

Instagram ads explained

Instagram ads can take many forms, including images, stories, videos, carousel posts, and reels. They also have detailed targeting options, making them attractive to businesses looking to expand their reach. Instagram ads can target you based on your age, location, behavior, interests, and many other factors.

That said, sponsored posts can be intrusive and downright annoying. The targeting system can work sometimes but usually shows irrelevant offers. Annoyance aside, some Instagram ads can pose a security risk. They can serve as malware disseminators or be a part of a larger Instagram scam.

Instagram serves native ads, which means they'll look like regular posts — they're designed to blend in and bypass the so-called "banner blindness." You can still recognize them by the word “Sponsored” in the top left corner. It will appear under the account’s name, whether you’re looking at a story or a post in your feed. Note that the location of the "Sponsored" stamp is susceptible to change.

How to block ads on Instagram

There's only one effective way to remove ads from your browser and Instagram app. If you have a professional account, the platform has some extra options. However, those allow you to customize ads based on your content as a creator, not a "regular" user. Here's what you can do to block those annoying ads.

Use a reliable ad blocker

Good ad blockers can remove ads from your browser or apps. They can also block online trackers and prevent you from accessing malicious websites. Take a look at our top picks.

  • Nord’s Threat Protection is a security feature built into NordVPN. It can block ads, trackers, and malicious websites. It can detect risky apps and scan files for malware while you're downloading them. As mentioned, NordVPN is also a part of the deal, which adds an extra layer of privacy and security.
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  • Total Adblock is a top-tier service that blocks ads, trackers, and malicious websites. It has a free version, but if you go premium, you'll also get antivirus protection. You can set up this ad blocker extension to allow important browser notifications (for example, a new message alert on Slack or Discord).
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  • Surfshark's CleanWeb is a part of Surfshark virtual private network (VPN); it can block ads, trackers, malicious websites, and even cookie pop-up requests. Some prominent extras include data breach and malware alerts.
    Get Surfshark | Read Surfshark Review

Use built-in Instagram features

If you have a professional Instagram account, you can use two features called "brand controls" and "opt-out." These options can cause a lot of confusion, so it's essential to define them properly.

Brand controls and opt-out refer to the ads shown on your content as a creator; they don't affect the ads you experience as a user browsing your Instagram feed. Let's explain what they do and how to set them up.

Brand controls

This feature allows you to block specific ad categories on your account. Before reaching for this option, we recommend checking which ad categories are blocked by default (for example, gambling and dating).

Here's how to customize brand controls:

  1. Go to your settings.
  2. Select Creator or Business
  3. Tap Ad placements
  4. Tap Ads in profile feed block list or Ads on Reels block list
  5. From there, you can block specific ad categories or advertiser accounts.


You can opt out of ads on Reels, in your feed, or both. Here's how to do it:

  1. Go to your settings.
  2. Select Creator or Business
  3. Tap Ad placements
  4. Toggle off Ads on Reels, Ads in profile feed, or both

Can Instagram ads be dangerous

Most Instagram ads will just try to convince you to buy a product or a service. They can be annoying, but they're ultimately harmless. However, some can be actively malicious, either trying to scam you or infect your system with malware.

Ads on any platform are ideal attack vectors for phishing scams. Criminals can use them to collect your private info, take you to a fake website riddled with malware, or scam you for money. Apart from financial loss, phishing can result in a hacked Instagram account and even identity theft.

So, malicious Instagram ads can be extremely dangerous. We recommend taking a proactive approach by learning how to recognize them.

How to recognize malicious ads on Instagram

Here are some of the common red flags you should watch out for:

  • Unrealistic offers: If an ad sounds too good to be true, it usually is. These phishing hooks can include large discounts, free giveaways, limited-time deals, high returns with no risk, exclusive membership offers, and more.
  • HTTP sites: Legitimate websites typically use HTTPS at the front of their links to ensure secure connections. An ad link leading you to an HTTP website could indicate a scam.
  • Poor brand reputation: Before engaging with an ad, analyze the poster's Instagram profile or do some internet research. Check online reviews, ratings, other consumers’ experiences with the brand, and their website.
  • Subpar landing pages: Malicious ads often lead to poorly designed landing pages that look unprofessional, have spelling and grammar errors, and no branding. These low-quality websites could be indicators of a scam.
  • Private info requests: Ads shouldn't ask for private info, period. Never share your login credentials, financial data, or other sensitive information (no matter how good the offer looks).
  • Unusual redirects: If an ad mentions one website but sends you to another, you're likely being scammed. You're probably dealing with a phishing website and should go back immediately.
  • Suspicious permission requests: Never share your device’s location, camera, or microphone with unknown and unvetted third parties.

How to block ads on Instagram FAQs


Why am I getting so many ads on Instagram?

Instagram doesn’t say how it determines the number of ads served per user. Since they're such a valuable income stream, it's natural that the company will push more ads over time. If you want to remove ads from your Instagram account, we recommend using a good ad blocker.


Can you block all ads on Instagram?

Yes, you can block all ads on Instagram by using a powerful ad blocker. Depending on your provider, this tool can also block trackers, malicious websites, and even malware.


Can you disable sponsored posts on Instagram?

You can't disable Instagram ads; the platform doesn't offer such an option. You can only block them with a good ad blocker tool.

Bottom line

Although Instagram tries to personalize your ads, you may still find them annoying and intrusive. The targeting algorithm can still operate on faulty info and show irrelevant offers. Malicious ads could also infect your system with malware or pull you into a phishing scam.

Since you can't block Instagram ads through your account settings, we recommend using a solid ad blocker for extra protection. These tools can remove ads from your Instagram page and block trackers, malware, and other threats.

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Author Details
Waverly Colville is a journalist and producer based in Brooklyn with over five years of professional experience in cybersecurity writing. She earned her B.J. in Investigative Journalism and a B.A. in International Peace Studies from the University of Missouri.