What does “Close Friends” mean on Instagram?

If you’ve been on Instagram for some time, chances are you’ve amassed a couple of thousand followers. While you may have started out with just friends, family, and coworkers on your page, our social media networks often far surpass our networks in real life. 

So what do you do if you want to post something for only your good buddies to see? Enter Instagram’s feature Close Friends. 


What does Close Friends on Instagram do? 

Instagram Stories, without a doubt, changed the social media platform forever. While the ability to share bits and pieces of your day with your followers was exciting, it didn’t provide that same sense of virtual connection that you got by sharing that content with just your friends. 

In 2018, Instagram handed us the ability to create a curated list of followers that we could share content with. So if you wanted to post your morning latte but didn’t want your boss to see it, you were free to do so. 

If you're posting photos on your Stories for all of your followers and Close Friends, chances are, you need all the storage space you can get. Check out Gemini Photos to learn how it can help you find (and delete) all of your extra photos.

Download on the App Store

How Instagram’s Close Friends feature works

If you’d like to pick and choose who sees certain posts on your Stories, then you’re in luck. The Close Friends feature is very simple to use. But before you start snapping away, first you need to learn how to add friends to your Close Friends list. 

Here’s how to add people to your Close Friends: 

  1. Open Instagram. 
  2. Press on the Story camera at the top-left corner of the page. 
  3. Press Settings > Close Friends.
  4. Type in the username of the person you want to add in the search bar. 
  5. Press the Add button to the right of the username.
Where to find the Close Friends feature on Instagram

From there, you can add and remove Instagram accounts to your Close Friends, as well as see what accounts Instagram has suggested you add to your list. 

You can also access your Close Friends list through your settings like this: 

  1. Go to your profile. 
  2. Press your settings in the top-right corner. 
  3. Tap Close Friends.
How to access the Close Friends feature from Instagram Settings

How to post only to a Close Friends list

Now that you’ve got your Close Friends list curated and edited, it’s time to start posting. Posting to your Close Friends is essentially the same process as posting on your Stories. Below are instructions on how to use your new favorite Instagram feature. 

  1. Open Stories and upload the photo or video you want to post. 
  2. Press the Close Friends button at the bottom of the page. 
How to post an Instagram Story only to your Close Friends list

Doing this will post to your Close Friends list. It will be displayed at the top of the home page where regular Stories from your followers are located, except that it will have a green ring around it, signifying that it’s for your Close Friends. 

Only the people who are on your Close Friends list will have it displayed on their home page. It’s also displayed on your profile like your Stories, but only you can see that. 

When it comes to what you can post to your Close Friends, you’ll be happy to learn that you can access all the same features you use in your public Stories. 


Does Instagram notify Close Friends when you post?

When you post to your Close Friends Story, your list is notified the same way as they are with other Stories: It’s added to the Stories bar at the top of their home page. But because it’s a Close Friends Story, it will be at the front of the Story list, and it will have a green circle around it. This is the only way people on your Close Friends list will see it; Instagram does not send out additional notifications. 

As with regular Stories, Close Friends Stories disappear after 24 hours. You can add a Close Friends Story to your Highlights, so it will be featured permanently on your profile, but only people on your Close Friends list will see it. You also are unable to share a Close Friend Story with other people. 


How does Instagram suggest Close Friends?

When you’re adding or removing accounts to your Close Friends list, you’ll notice a “Suggestions” tab. In that tab will be a list of accounts that Instagram has curated for you to add to your Close Friends list potentially. 

So how exactly does Instagram make this determination? Instagram seems to make suggestions based on people you’ve recently sent direct messages to or whose account you’ve interacted with the most. 

Simply tapping the word Add next to a suggested friend will add them to your Close Friends. 


How do you know if you’re on someone’s Instagram Close Friends list?

While Instagram’s Close Friends list is reminiscent of the long-gone days of Myspace’s Top 8, there’s one major way it’s different. 

Unlike your followers and who you’re following, your Close Friends list is only visible to you. That means that no one — not even your Close Friends — can see who is on your list. That also means that you can’t see anyone else’s Close Friends list. People only know that they are on a Close Friends list when they see someone’s post on a Close Friends Story. 

It’s also important to note that no one can request to be added to your Close Friends list. Instagram doesn’t notify anyone when they are added to a Close Friends list, and it doesn’t notify them when they are removed from that list either. So you can add and remove people from your private list as you please. 

So the only way to really know if you’re on someone’s Close Friends list is to wait until they post a Close Friends Story. If you see their Story updated with a green ring around it, you know it’s for Close Friends only. 


Can you remove yourself from a Close Friends list?

Unfortunately, there is no way to remove yourself from someone else’s Close Friends list unless you’re willing to take some extreme measures. 

If you really want to be removed from a Close Friend’s list — and you don’t feel comfortable simply direct-messaging them and asking them to do so — the only course of action is to unfriend or block them. Then they won’t be able to access your profile at all, and you will not be able to see or access theirs. As long as you’re okay with the potential real-life consequences of that, it’s the only way to remove yourself from a Close Friends list. 


While Instagram has, without a doubt, made our virtual social networks double (and sometimes even triple) in size, it’s nice to know that the platform is still finding ways for users to connect on a more personal level. Close Friends is an easy (and fun) way to stay in contact with those you love most.

Gemini Photos
Too many iPhone photos?

Gemini Photos: Keep just the good ones