Whenever you see a pop-up notification on your phone from Instagram, you’re inclined to check out which post received a like or a comment or to check who sent you a direct message.
However, sometimes Instagram will say that you have received a message, but upon checking, you actually haven’t received anything at all. Don’t worry – it’s probably nothing serious and it’s not a bug either. When the app says that you have received a message, it will be from someone who you aren’t following but wants to get in touch with you. Sometimes, it can also be caused by a glitch in the app or on your phone.
Every Instagram user has two separate inboxes: a normal inbox where you can communicate and DM with all of your friends and Instabuddies, and a secondary hidden inbox where you’ll receive message requests from unknown people. It’s actually kind of similar to the message requests that you’ll receive in Facebook Messenger – although that shouldn’t be surprising given the fact that both Messenger and Instagram are owned by Facebook.
Why does it say I have Instagram messages when I don’t see them?
A lot of people are actually dealing with this issue. For example, this is what one Reddit user encountered:
In the thread, others actually commented that they were experiencing the same thing:
It’s actually quite normal that you can’t easily find these Instagram messages – the second inbox was purposefully designed to stay as hidden as possible and to not interfere with your regular direct messages. The reason is actually fairly simple: users tend to trust the people they follow, but the same can’t be said for strangers. Whenever a stranger (someone who you’re not following) tries to DM you, it’ll be redirected automatically to the second inbox that is named ‘Message Requests’.
Why are some messages sent to the Message Requests folder?
Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of spam on Instagram, or worse, some people even try to scam others by the manner of phishing or malicious links that can install viruses or malware onto your device. For that reason, these DM’s will be sent to the message requests folder. Chances are, if you have a new DM over there, that it will either be a scam, fake, an automated message from a bot, or something else with bad intent.
For example, automized bots will send a lot of people messages, usually profiling themselves as attractive women, to check out their personal pictures online. These are always a scam and should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, Instagram’s automated spam filters can not possibly catch and remove all of these malicious messages, which means they’re sent to the Message Requests folder.
Are all Message Requests DM’s fake, spam or viruses?
Absolutely not. Sometimes, it will be a real person that wants to get in touch with you. If they’re not being followed by you, the message requests folder is the only way they can get in touch with you via Instagram. Perhaps it’s someone who wants to collaborate with you or talk to you after they’ve seen a post? In any case, act on your own due diligence, you should easily be able to identify whether an Instagram account is real or not.
Sometimes, you’ll also get an Insta DM notification, but there are no new messages or message requests. How do you clear those?
When you’ve made sure that it’s not a message request that’s been bothering you and causing the notification, chances are that it’s just a glitch in the system. For some reason, the app doesn’t identify that you’ve read all of your DM’s and still sends the push notification, which can definitely be annoying. Luckily, there are a few things you can do when this occurs, so let’s take a look.
Before you take a look at the methods, make sure that there are no messages in your list that you’ve actually never read before – this will also pop up the notification. There’s an easy way to figure out which messages you have never read before, simply use the “unread filter” which can be found directly to the right of the search bar in your DM’s.
Method one: logging out and back in again
It’s a very common saying among ITers and a phrase that a lot of people actually hate hearing: “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” You might not expect it, but this annoying sentence actually solves a ton of problems for various reasons, and it’s anything but a dumb suggestion. Definitely make sure that you know/remember your Instagram password, because you’ll need it for this step.
Simply logging out of Instagram, and logging back in again might just do the trick and help you clear that annoying Instagram message notification when you don’t have any. Here’s how you do it:
- In the Instagram app, go to your Profile page
- You’ll find the Settings button in the top-right corner menu
- At the very bottom of this settings list, there will be a “log out” button
- Close the app, open it again and log in with your Instagram (or Facebook) credentials
Method two: refresh your DM’s
This one is pretty easy, but still worth a shot nonetheless. If you’re dealing with that annoying DM notification and there aren’t any DM’s you can see, perhaps your feed hasn’t been refreshed yet. What you can do in these cases, is completely refresh the list – this will usually also refresh the message requests list.
Refreshing your DM’s is an incredibly simple process:
- Open the Instagram app, preferably on the home page
- There’s an Arrow-icon at the top right which brings you to the DM screen
- Simply swipe the screen down (pulldown), this will refresh your inboxes
- Read or delete these new messages to get rid of the notifications
Method three: clearing the Instagram app cache or re-installing the app altogether
Even though a lot of people have no idea what the purpose of a cache is, it’s one of the most important concepts in modern technology. When data is cached, it means that it’s only downloaded once and then used again at later times. A good example is your profile picture – you see it all the time, and instead of downloading that profile picture every single time you view it in the app, it gets stored in the cache for future reference. This is a way to save data.
However, sometimes there can be cache issues and it needs to get cleared out or purged. This isn’t a bad thing by any means, and it definitely can’t hurt. We do recommend that you do this on a wi-fi network instead of a cellular one, as it’s more likely that you’ll download more data afterward. On an iPhone, you’ll have to delete the app entirely to get rid of the cache. Simply redownload it from the App Store afterward, and you’re good to go. The process for Android is a little bit different, but still quite easy.
How to clear the Instagram cache on an iPhone
- Find the Settings icon on your iPhone
- Head over to the General tab, and then click iPhone Storage
- You’ll probably have to scroll a bit until you find Instagram. Go ahead and tap the icon if you’ve found it.
- Hit the ‘Delete App’ button to get rid of Instagram and its cache
- Head over to the App Store to download Instagram once again
How to clear the Instagram cache on an Android smartphone
- Go to the general settings of your smartphone
- There should be a Storage section, click on it
- Press on the “Other Apps” section to locate third-party app settings
- Scroll down until you’ve spotted Instagram, and click on it when you find it
- Aside from deleting, there will also be a “Clear Cache” button. That’s the one you’ll want to press
After clearing the cache, chances are that you won’t be dealing with this annoying message notification anymore.
Method four: log in to Instagram via the website, not the app
This method was actually suggested by a Reddit user who dealt with the same issue, as you can see below:
It appears that an Instagram bug causing the notification can be fixed when you’re not using the app, but when you head over to the website (www.instagram.com) instead. Log in over there, then head over to the DM section and delete the message which shows up. After you do this, the annoying notifications should stop.