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Why does Instagram say "This story is unavailable"?

Most of the time missing stories can't be accessed, but you might be in luck.
By
November 21, 2023

There are many possible error messages in Instagram, but one of the more immediately frustrating ones has to be “This story is unavailable.” You probably have a sense of what’s going on here — but there are actually a variety of possible triggers for the error, and in some cases, there are things you can do that might get you the story content you’re after.

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Normally this means a story has expired or been manually deleted. Less commonly it may be a matter of permissions, blocking, app bugs, or removal by Instagram for rules violations. You could also be dealing with a weak internet connection.


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Why does Instagram say “This story is unavailable”?

instagram stories location
Curtis Joe / Android Authority

Most of the time a story goes missing because of things related to permissions or their inherent design. Technical glitches can interfere though, in which case there may be solutions available to you.

Here’s a more detailed set of possible causes:

  • The story is expired. Intentionally, all Instagram stories expire after 24 hours. If you were given a link to a story but didn’t get around to it in time, you’ll see “This story is unavailable” as a placeholder.
  • A bug is mistakenly claiming a user has a new story. On rare occasions an Instagram profile will flag a user as having a new story, but with nothing to show when you go to view it.
  • The story was personally deleted. Users have the option of manually deleting their stories before that 24-hour clock winds down. There could be any number of reasons, from embarrassment to being worried about offending someone or exposing personal info.
  • You don’t have permission to view the story. Some people on Instagram choose to limit story access to their followers or users on their Close Friends list. If you’re given a link to a restricted story, tapping on it will trigger an error.
  • The host profile has switched to private. It could be that you used to have permission to view someone’s stories, but they’ve decided to take their account private, in which case only approved followers can see their stories.
  • You’ve been blocked. The person hosting the story may no longer want to interact with you, and they’ve decided to block your account. Don’t try to get around this by creating alternate accounts — you’re more likely to annoy the person than anything, and you risk being kicked off Instagram entirely for harassment.
  • Instagram itself has removed the story. If a story breaks Instagram’s rules, algorithms and/or moderators may have flagged it for deletion. Usually this is for something like nudity, spam, or copyright infringement, but the company will also take down posts it considers hate speech, “credible” threats, dangerous misinformation, or attempts to blackmail or harass someone.
  • Your internet connection is weak. If your cellular or Wi-Fi signal is faint or otherwise too slow, the Instagram app may give up on trying to load a story.
  • There’s a bug in the app. Some sort of software glitch may be preventing the app from loading a story at all, even though it does exist and you have permission to view it.

How to fix “This story is unavailable” in Instagram

In most situations there won’t be a fix available, since story access is being deliberately controlled by Instagram or another user. But there are a scarce handful of scenarios in which you can try something.

  • If you don’t have permission, you’ve been blocked, or a profile has been set to private: You may be able to contact a person via phone or chat and ask them to change settings, or approve you as a follower or Close Friend. Exactly what’s needed will depend on one of the causes listed above. This approach is only going to help if someone didn’t mean to exclude you however — if you’ve been blocked by an ex, for instance, you should leave them alone. Continued messaging could get you banned from Instagram, or even facing legal charges.
  • If your internet connection is weak: Try switching from cellular to Wi-Fi if it’s an option, or vice versa. If neither cellular nor Wi-Fi is performing well, there isn’t much choice but to relocate to somewhere with a stronger signal — or improve your home network if that’s what you’re connected to.
  • If you suspect there’s an app glitch: Try updating the Instagram app. If that doesn’t work or no update is available, you can try purging the app’s cache, assuming you’re on Android. Both Android and iPhone users can try force-quitting the app and relaunching it. Bad caching can sometimes convince an app that content does or doesn’t exist in spite of reality.