Both Instagram and Facebook allow any person who finds your profile to send you a private message. However, while messages from your friends appear in your alerts and inbox directly, messages from others are hidden in a separate place for message requests. These social networks hide such messages to keep potential spam from filling your primary inbox, but it can be inconvenient when you can't find messages from new people you want to hear from. The solution is to check the hidden messages on Instagram or Facebook regularly.
Checking Hidden Messages on Instagram
The Instagram website in a browser doesn't have an option to see your hidden messages without using a third-party tool. However, you can access your hidden messages on Instagram through the mobile app. Start by tapping the airplane icon on the upper right corner of the app to see all your private messages. If you have any hidden messages, you'll see a link to tap beside the Messages heading that reflects the number of message requests you have.
Tap one of the message requests to see its contents and some basic information about the sender, such as username and number of followers and posts. Tap Accept to begin the conversation, select Ignore to prevent future messages from the individual, or Delete to remove the message from the list.
Checking Hidden Messages on Facebook
To see your hidden messages using the Facebook Messenger app, start by tapping your profile image in the upper left corner. This brings up a menu that displays a Message Requests option underneath your name. Tap it to show a list of messages sent by people who aren't your Facebook friends. You may also see a Spam option that you can tap to see messages Facebook considers as scam or junk.
If you're using the Facebook website, click the Messages icon on the navigation bar at the top of Facebook and click the tab for Message Requests to see hidden messages. This shows a similar messages list as the app but instead has a See filtered messages link you click to see the spam messages.
Click or tap a hidden message to see its contents. Responding to a message allows the sender to see your status and communicate with you freely on Facebook. If you'd rather not receive messages from the person, use the option at the bottom of the chat that says you'd rather not hear from the person. Selecting the option displays choices that include blocking the person from communicating with you entirely, deleting the chat or reporting the message to Facebook as inappropriate.
Reducing Unwanted Private Messages
If you want to cut down on the unsolicited messages you receive on these services, try limiting the audience that can see your content. That way, your posts aren't publicly visible to strangers who may try to message or spam you.
To do this on Facebook for all past and future posts, use the right drop-down menu to choose Settings on the Facebook website or select the same option from the hamburger menu on the Facebook app. Tap the option that is labeled Privacy or Privacy Settings to see two options about who can see your past and future posts. Edit those so that only a limited audience of your current friends or friends of friends can see your content.
For Instagram, you can set your whole profile to private to limit the audience. Access the app's hamburger menu and select Settings and then Privacy. Change the Account Privacy option to Private Account. As a result, you have to approve any requests to see your posts personally, so they soon stop appearing on the public feeds.