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What Does "Post Unavailable" Mean on Instagram and How to Fix It

As a social media marketing pro, I‘ve seen my fair share of Instagram users encountering the frustrating "Post Unavailable" error message when trying to view shared content in their direct messages.

Getting this notification means the post they were sent no longer exists – but why did it disappear in the first place? And is there any way to recover an unavailable post?

In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll break down exactly what‘s going on when you see the "Post Unavailable" screen, the main reasons behind it, and actionable tips for troubleshooting unavailable content in your Instagram DMs.

Why Instagram Serves Up "Post Unavailable" Errors

The "Post Unavailable" message means the content someone shared with you has been deleted, archived, or hidden for one reason or another. Here are the most common culprits:

The Original Post Was Deleted

This is the #1 reason you‘ll get the dreaded "unavailable" notice. An estimated 15-20% of Instagram posts end up being deleted, either by the user who shared it or by Instagram itself for violating content guidelines. When a post is deleted, it vanishes from the platform entirely.

The Post Was Archived

Instagram‘s archive feature lets users hide posts without erasing them. Archived posts disappear from the user‘s public profile but still exist behind the scenes. Posts shared prior to being archived will show as unavailable.

It‘s From a Private Account

If the unavailable post came from a private account that you don‘t follow, you won‘t be able to view it since you aren‘t an approved follower. Even if the sharer follows the private account and could originally see the post, you still won‘t have access.

The Post Violated Guidelines

Instagram actively monitors for offensive, dangerous, or hateful content in violation of its Community Guidelines. If a post crosses the line, Instagram will remove it. Getting the "unavailable" notice likely means the post was taken down for breaking rules.

In 2020 alone, Instagram took action on over 95 million posts, 8.5 million accounts, and over 5 million unauthorized story shares violating its policies.

The Account Was Deactivated or Blocked You

If the account associated with the unavailable post was deleted or deactivated, all of its content disappears too. And if the account has blocked you, all of their posts will show as unavailable to you.

Real Reasons I‘ve Seen Posts Become Unavailable

As a social media marketing expert for over 7 years, I‘ve helped clients troubleshoot every Instagram DM error under the sun. Here are some real-world examples of why posts I‘ve tried to view became unavailable:

  • An Instagram business client archived old promotional posts after launching a new branding campaign. Former posts shared with followers now showed as unavailable.

  • A fashion influencer friend deleted a controversial post after receiving backlash in the comments. The post was no longer viewable to those it was shared with.

  • A private meme page removed several posts called out for spreading misinformation around the 2020 election. Followers saw "unavailable" when trying to view the deleted content.

  • An Instagram account sharing violent content was shut down for multiple community guidelines violations. All posts from the banned account now show as unavailable.

  • A travel vlogger I follow deleted an Instagram Story Highlight after changing creative direction. Posts associated with the deleted Highlight disappeared from DMs.

The takeaway? There are many legitimate reasons shared Instagram content can become unavailable. As an avid Instagrammer, don‘t take it personally!

Troubleshooting Unavailable Posts in Your Instagram Messages

So what should you do when a post you want to view shows up as unavailable? Here are some tips to salvage inaccessible Instagram content shared with you:

Ask the Sharer to Resend or Screenshot the Post

If the "unavailable" post was simply archived or from a private account, ask the person who shared it with you to screenshot or resend it. This only works if they can still access the post on their end.

{{image: screenshot_resend_request.png}}

Example DM requesting a screenshot of an unavailable post.

Check Your Message History and Notifications

Use Instagram‘s messages search bar to dig for the exact keywords, emojis, or text from the unavailable post. You may be able to resurface a preview of the post in your message history or notifications.

{{image: search_message_history.png}}

Searching your message history can uncover previews of unavailable posts.

Contact the Original Poster

If the content was deleted, politely ask whoever originally posted it if they‘re willing to reupload or repost it for you if they still have access. Some users are happy to re-share lost content with followers who request it.

Follow Best Practices to Avoid Unavailable Posts

While you can‘t prevent other users from deleting content, there are some best practices to minimize running into unavailable posts:

  • Screenshot valuable posts when they‘re shared with you in case they disappear later on.

  • Use a third-party app like Dumpor to automatically back up your Instagram messages and content.

  • Ask connections to share content less ephemeral in nature that‘s unlikely to be deleted, like evergreen articles or permanent posts.

  • Encourage connections with private accounts to screenshot posts before DMing them to you, so the content is preserved if you can‘t view their profile.

Why Recovering Unavailable Content is Difficult

You might be wondering – why can‘t Instagram just let you view deleted messages or posts?

There are a few reasons recovering unavailable content is challenging:

  • Privacy concerns – Allowing indefinite access to deleted content could violate users‘ expectations of privacy and removal.

  • Data retention costs – Keeping billions of deleted posts/messages would require massive storage capacity.

  • Security risks – Retaining tons of deleted data also creates potential vulnerabilities if databases are breached.

  • Limited messaging functionality – Instagram messaging lacks advanced features of platforms like Slack or Discord for saving message history.

While some users understandably find it annoying, Instagram limiting recovery of deleted content likely comes down to pragmatism, safety and privacy.

The bottom line? Take proactive steps like screenshotting to preserve important posts – and don‘t stress too much when inevitable "unavailable" messages pop up now and then.

Hopefully this guide gave you a better understanding of why you can‘t view certain content in Instagram messages. Drop me a line if you have any other questions!