Instagram 'Recently Deleted' helps hack-recovery or changes of heart

Instagram is adding the ability to retrieve deleted posts, with its new Recently Deleted feature bringing back accidentally or intentionally removed photos and videos. The new tool is not just intended for those who have a change of heart, the Facebook-owned social network says, but also as a way for those recovering an account after it was hacked to restore their original content.

"We know hackers sometimes delete content when they gain access to an account," Instagram explained in a blog post today, "and until now people had no way of easily getting their photos and videos back."

The company's answer is Recently Deleted, basically the equivalent of the trash can on macOS or the recycle bin on Windows. Unlike how Instagram behaves today, where deleting a post means it's gone forever, the app will now save any deleted photos, videos, reels, IGTV videos, and stories in the Recently Deleted folder. Though they'll no longer be visible on your public profile, a copy will still be kept on Instagram's servers.

Exactly how long they'll remain there for resurrection will depend on the content type itself. Deleted stories – not in your archive – will last for up to 24 hours in the Recently Deleted folder. All other types of content, meanwhile, will automatically be fully deleted 30 days later if you don't restore it.

There'll be an other hurdle before you can do that, too. "Starting today," Instagram explains, "we will ask people to first verify that they are the rightful account holders when permanently deleting or restoring content from Recently Deleted."

If you want to recover a post that's in the new folder, you can find it by going to Settings in the Instagram app. From the Account option, there'll now be a "Recently Deleted" entry in the list. There, you'll be able to either restore the media or, if you'd prefer, permanently delete it. Once you've taken that final step, of course, it's gone for good.

Still, even with that, Instagram warns that not all content will necessarily be removed from its servers straight away. "It may take up to 90 days to complete the deletion process after it begins," the company clarifies. "Copies of your content may remain after the 90 days in backup storage that we use to recover in the event of a disaster, software error, or other data loss event. We may also keep your information for things like legal issues, terms violations, or harm prevention efforts."

You'll need to be running the latest version of Instagram on your iOS or Android device in order to find the Recently Deleted folder option.