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What does "user not found" mean on Instagram?

There are reasons for seeing this message than you might think.

Published onMarch 13, 2024

Instagram stock image 10
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

When you’re searching for someone on Instagram, it’s quite common to encounter a message telling you that the user couldn’t be found. You might be out of luck, but knowing about the half dozen reasons why you might be seeing this message could help you work out why you’re not having any success. So what does “user not found” mean on Instagram? We’ll run you through the possibilities.


Possible reasons for seeing the "user not found" message on Instagram include:

  1. You entered the wrong username;
  2. The user changed their username;
  3. The user blocked you;
  4. The user has deleted or disabled their account;
  5. The account has been banned;
  6. There are technical issues.

Find out what each of these means and what you can do about it below.

Why does it say “user not found” on Instagram?

There are several reasons that you might be seeing this message or something similar. The reasons below might not return this exact response, but these are the possibilities if you’re not able to find the user that you expected to see.

You entered the wrong username

Instagram User Not Found Incorrect Username

The simplest explanation is usually the most likely. If you have the incorrect username for the user, or you typed it wrong in the search, then you’re obviously not going to find them.

Instagram has over one billion active monthly users, so if you make a typo in a username, it’s much more likely that you’ll find the wrong user rather than no user at all. This will undoubtedly become apparent to you quickly enough.

What you can do: Check that you have the right username and that you entered it correctly.

The user changed their username

This is technically the same reason as entering the wrong username, although this time, it’s not so much your fault. It’s very easy to change your username on the ‘gram, so it’s possible that the user you are looking for has switched.

It’s worth knowing this because it’s also possible that, after the person you’re looking for gave up the username, someone else took it. If you thought you had the right username for your target but it’s apparent from the profile you found that you’re in the wrong place, this is one explanation.

What you can do: Reach out to the person via other methods to verify their current username.

The user blocked you

Instagram stock image 1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

It’s not a realization we want to make, but you have to consider the possibility that the user has blocked you. You don’t get a notification if you’re blocked by someone on Instagram. Instead, it’s as if the person has disappeared from your version of the app. They won’t appear in searches, and you won’t be able to tap on their username if you come across it in comments or messages. The latter is the bigger clue that you might be blocked.

What you can do: If you think it’s very unlikely you’ve been blocked, perhaps because you’re searching for a close friend, check with them that they haven’t blocked you by mistake. But be advised that this is unlikely. If you can’t reach their profile by tapping their username in messages, and you’re not on good terms with them, you should probably accept that they blocked you for a reason.

The user has deleted or disabled their account

This is actually two reasons in one, but the result is the same. Deleting your Instagram account removes all traces of it from the app permanently, while disabling it is like temporarily putting it into hibernation until you need it again. Either way, the account isn’t currently active and won’t show up in searches.

What you can do: There’s not much you can do in this case. You’re trying to find someone on Instagram who has actively decided they don’t want to be found on the platform, at least for now. If you have an important message for your acquaintance,  you could try to reach them through other channels.

The account has been banned

This is very similar to the reason above, but the owner of the account didn’t make the choice to deactivate their account in this instance. If they violated the Instagram community guidelines or terms of use, it’s possible that the account has been banned.

If the account has been banned by mistake, the user may be in the process of appealing the decision, so a ban doesn’t necessarily mean that the account is gone forever.

What you can do: Try looking for the account again after a few days or weeks.

Technical glitch

All sites suffer from technical problems from time to time. The Meta family of social media platforms is no different. It’s fairly rare, but it might be possible that you can access a cached version of the site while being unable to search for users.

The issue may also be on your end. It might be necessary for you to update the app, or a slow internet connection could be causing the issue. If you’re struggling to find any users rather than just one specific username, this could be the explanation.

What you can do: Our article on what to do when Instagram isn’t working should give you a few ideas.


If an Instagram account is deactivated, it will appear as if it doesn’t exist at all. You won’t be able to find it.

It’s not immediately obvious because Instagram intentionally makes these distinctions subtle to maintain user privacy. But for instance, if you can see the username in comments or likes but can’t click it, that’s an indication that you’re blocked. Whereas, if there’s no evidence of their account at all, it’s more likely that the account has been deleted.

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