Cancel Sent Follow Request on Instagram: How to?

Ever wondered how to cancel sent follow request on Instagram? Or If you unfollow someone on Instagram, will they know?

You’re not alone!

If you want to learn all about what happens when you cancel an Instagram follow request, then this article is for you.

Let’s delve into the intricacies of Instagram’s follow request feature and unravel these mysteries.

Let’s jump right into it!

What Is an Instagram Follow?

Young woman smiling with phone at restaurant because she figured out how to cancel sent follow request on Instagram before the other user found out.

If you’re a big-time Instagram user, you can breeze through some of this background information.

Skip down to where I talk about what people know when you cancel a follow request.

But if you’re not so familiar with Instagram, let’s take a moment to learn a few essentials.

Since Instagram is a social media platform, it includes a way for you to connect with people and easily see what they’re posting.

With Instagram, this is done through the follow mechanic.

You can follow other users, and they can follow you.

When that is the case, you will see each others’ posts and have an easier time keeping up with each other via the app.

That’s really the whole point.

There’s also the issue of engagement metrics.

If you’re trying to use Instagram in a professional manner (like through social media influencing or with a business page), then follows are an important aspect of engagement. 

To keep this simple, having more follows is good for being popular on the app.

How Does Instagram Follow Work?

Woman at home using Instagram on her phone trying to learn how to cancel all her sent follow requests.

When it comes to actually following people on Instagram, it’s pretty easy.

Go to whatever account you’re interested in, and then hit the follow button. That’s it.

Well, that’s sometimes all there is to it.

You see, Instagram actually has two kinds of accounts: public and private.

Public accounts grant immediate access. But with private ones, your follow becomes a request awaiting approval.

This distinction becomes crucial when you’re thinking about how to cancel all sent follow request on Instagram.

If you hit the follow button on a public account, then you will follow that account.

If you try to follow a private account, then it will actually send a request to that user.

They’ll get a notification saying that you want to follow them, and then they can either approve or decline that request.

It’s a feature that allows people with private accounts a little more control over who can and cannot see their posts.

Also: Does Instagram Notify Contacts When Joining?

This, by the way, works in both directions.

If you have a private account, then people will have to request permission to follow you.

You will get notifications, and you can approve or decline as you see fit.

The important thing to understand about all of this is that when you hit “follow” on a private account, that sets an automated response in motion with the Instagram servers.

That response culminates with Instagram sending the other person a notification about your follow request. 

That’s going to be a crucial point of the rest of this conversation.

What About Canceling an Instagram Follow Request?

Closeup of female using smartphone trying to discover if you unfollow someone on Instagram will they know.

Now you know how to follow someone.

What if you sent a follow request and now are having second thoughts? Instagram has your back. After sending a request, the “follow” button changes to “requested.”

Tapping it again offers a cancel option.

You can click or tap on that button, and you will see two options: unfollow and cancel.

You can hit unfollow if you followed accidentally or change your mind.

It’s a pretty easy thing to find and do.

If you unfollow someone, then that will send a signal to the Instagram servers, the servers will delete the original request and the other user will not know.

We’ll get into what this looks like on the other end in the following sections.

First, it’s important to emphasize the basics here.

You can only cancel a follow request in this way after you make the request and before it is approved or declined by the other user.

Otherwise, instead of seeing “requested,” you will see “following.”

You can still unfollow through the same set of steps, but you’re no longer canceling the follow request.

Your follow was approved at this point.

Interesting enough, you will see the “follow” button come back at some point if your request was denied.

How To Cancel All Sent Follow Requests on Instagram

Mistakenly sent some follow requests? Or just rethinking your decision? Here’s your guide cancel all of them:

  1. Via Browser on PC or Mobile:
    • Visit Instagram.
    • Navigate to your profile, then “Tools Section” -> “Privacy and Security”.
    • Click “Account Data” -> “View Account Data”.
    • Under “Connections”, select “View All” for “Current Follow Requests”.
    • Here, you can cancel each request.
  2. Automation With JavaScript:
    • For the tech-savvy, scripts can assist. But always proceed with caution!

Remember, if you unfollow someone on Instagram or retract a request, they will know if they receive a notification.

If You Cancel an Instagram Follow Request, What Does the Other User Know? (3 Things)

Young woman standing deep in thought wondering if she should cancel her latest sent follow request on Instagram.

Finally, we can get to the crux of this whole thing.

Now what if you unfollow someone on Instagram or withdraw the request, will they know?

What does the other person see?

That depends on a few different things, so I’ll take you through each of the possibilities in detail.

#1 If They Look for the First Time After You Cancel

Thoughtful blonde female working on how to unfollow someone on Instagram so that they will not know.

If you swiftly cancel a follow request you sent on Instagram before the other user checks their notifications, they ideally shouldn’t see any hint of your initial intent.

When you cancel a follow request, the idea is that the Instagram servers are erasing that request.

They should see nothing at all.

That’s what happens when everything goes according to plan.

Keep in mind that there are exceptions to this, and we’ll be talking about all of the ways that things can get weird.

But, if you’re able to cancel the request before they see it, then they shouldn’t see anything at all.

The Notification

The problem is that tricky follow request notification.

As you know, when you send a follow request, the other user gets a notification.

In theory, if you cancel the request before they see the notification, it will go away, but sometimes, notifications don’t clear as intended.

Really, this depends on how they get the notification.

If you sign into Instagram on the website, you’ll see your notifications on the list of options on the left side of the screen.

Those notifications include any follow requests.

If someone sends you a follow request and then cancels it, the notification will disappear from this list.

That’s because this is controlled exclusively by Instagram, and everything works nicely.

But, what if you get push notifications on your phone?

You use Instagram a lot, so you allow your phone to show you Instagram notifications even when the screen is locked.

In this case, Instagram is sending notifications to your phone, and your phone is now forwarding them to you.

There’s an extra step in the process, and that’s where things get muddied.

If you follow someone on Instagram then unfollow by cancelling the request before they see it, there’s a chance they will know from a push notification on their phone.

In this case, the phone will say that there is a request on Instagram.

How much is in that notification depends on the software on the phone.

Some phones will say that you have new notifications on Instagram.

Others will push more information and tell you exactly who requested to follow you.

So, they might tap on the message and open Instagram.

When they do, the follow request won’t be there.

Basically, they get a ghost notification.

The long story made short is that the notification might tell them about your request even if you cancel right away. 

But, there’s still more to discuss.

#2 If They See the Request Before You Cancel

Young couple looking at smart phone while sitting in cafe with friends

If they see the request before you cancel it, then there’s not much to say.

They saw the request.

They know everything.

Whether or not this happens is kind of a numbers game.

Did it take you a long time to cancel?

How often is the other user on Instagram?

How many followers do they have?

If they rarely check Instagram, they may not have seen your request.

Even if they’re on all the time, if they are busy enough on the app, they might not see it.

But, given enough time, it’s virtually inevitable that they will see your request.

If you’re trying to prevent that, the key is to cancel the request as fast as possible.

#3 If You Cancel Immediately

Close-up female holding her smartphone on workspace

There’s one other scenario to consider. 

You see, there is a bit of lag time that exists after you make a request with Instagram.

Let’s say you’re using the phone app.

You’re scrolling, and you accidentally tap on “follow.”

That sends a signal to the Instagram servers that you want to follow an account.

The servers then process that information and send your follow request to the user.

As fast as computers can be, this doesn’t happen instantaneously.

In fact, Instagram handles an absolutely enormous amount of internet traffic, and on a regular basis, various requests get stalled while they wait in line to be handled by the servers.

Because of this, it can take anywhere from a few seconds to 15 minutes for the servers to actually process your request and send the notification.

That, dear friend, is a window of opportunity.

If you cancel the request before it is processed, then no notification will ever be sent.

The Instagram servers will receive a request to cancel the follow notification before the follow request gets there.

The servers are sophisticated and know what to do with that information, so when the follow request finally gets there, it’s automatically canceled.

There is, however, a catch.

The cancel request can also get stuck waiting in line to be processed, and you have absolutely no control over how quickly any specific request is processed.

Canceling immediately is your best bet to avoid any notifications, but there are no guarantees.

If the cancel request has to wait for 15 minutes and the original follow request goes through quickly, you’re out of luck, and the previous sections apply.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

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