Frequently Asked Questions

This section includes answers to questions participants may have about the study or the website.
If you don't see an answer to your question, please email us at You can also send our team a text message at (407) 984-6180.








What devices and browsers are recommended?

We recommend that you complete the study using a desktop or laptop computer with Mozilla Firefox or a Chromium derivative (e.g. Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Opera, Brave, or Vivaldi).

The use of a mobile device is not recommended. However, if you would prefer to use an iOS device, Safari will provide the best experience.

Can I return to the study if I close my browser?


If you leave the study before reaching the upload page, you can return to the study page with the same browser and computer. The study will pick up where you left off.

If you leave the study after reaching the upload page, an email will be sent to the address you provided earlier. This email will include a link that you can use to return to the study at any time. You can also return to the study page with the same browser and computer, but the link can be used anywhere.

How many times can I participate in the study?

You can only participate in this study once.

However, if you encounter difficulties or errors that may require you to restart, you can email us at or send a text to (407) 984-6180.

Can I use Instagram's iOS or Android app to download my data?

Unfortunately, no. Using Instagram’s iOS or Android app will provide you with a file that is HTML formatted. Our file processor cannot read this formatting, and you will receive an error after uploading it.

While you can still request a download on a mobile device, you must do so through a web browser to ensure that the file will be compatible.

If you would like to check whether the file is compatible with our system, open the ZIP Instagram sent. Folders within the ZIP should contain files with the .json extension. If they have the .html extension, you will need to make another data request.


Where can I review the consent forms?

Our study has three different consent forms, all of which can be accessed below.

  • If you are between 13 and 17 years old, view Teen Assent here.
  • If you are the parent of a participant between 13 and 17 years old, view Parental Consent here.
  • If you are 18 years old or older, view Adult Consent here.

Will my data be reported to the authorities?

This research is covered by a Certificate of Confidentiality from the National Institutes of Health. This means that the researchers cannot release or use information, documents, or samples that may identify you in any legal actions or lawsuits, even as evidence, unless you provide consent. This protection covers federal, state, civil, criminal, administrative, and legislative proceedings. An example would be a court subpoena.

The Certificate does not stop reporting that federal, state, or local laws require. For example, we are required to report child abuse, elder abuse, child pornography, some communicable diseases, and threats to harm yourself or others. For this reason, we ask that you remove all instances of these, particularly child pornography (i.e. any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a person less than 18 years old), before uploading your data file.

The Certificate cannot be used to stop a sponsoring U.S. federal or state government agency from checking records or evaluating programs. In addition, the Certificate does not prevent your information from being used for other research so long as this use is allowed by federal regulations.

Researchers may release information about you if you give consent. The Certificate of Confidentiality does not stop you from willingly releasing information about your involvement in this research. It also does not prevent you from having access to your own information.

Content shared with the participant by other users that is included in their Instagram data file, such as direct messages, will be treated as the participant’s own data. As a result, it is under the same requirements for mandated reporting as the participant's own data.


How do I download my Instagram data?

You can review the download instructions here.

For MAC users: view special download instructions here.

How do I upload my Instagram data to the study’s web interface?

You can review the upload instructions here.

Please note that these instructions expect that data will be uploaded using a PC.

There are things I’m not comfortable with sharing in my Instagram data. Can I delete them?

Yes. Instagram data downloads do not contain anything you have deleted, so feel free to remove anything that you’re not comfortable with sharing. Just make sure that you still have at least 15 conversations and 2 unsafe conversations in your inbox, or else you won’t be allowed to do the study.

If you would like to keep something on Instagram but still don’t want us to see it, then you can instead delete it from the downloaded ZIP file. However, if you plan to do this, please make sure to follow these rules:

  • Do NOT delete the "account_information" folder.
  • Do NOT delete the "messages" folder.
  • Ensure that the "inbox" folder (in "messages") has at least 15 subfolders.
  • Do NOT edit or delete the JSON files in any folder. (You may, however, read them to determine which conversation each represents.)
  • Do NOT delete any photos or videos from conversations that you are keeping.

Failure to follow the above rules may result in an upload error, corrupted messages, or an inability to view media in conversations.

Additionally, please understand that a file with only the bare minimum is more likely to be rejected by our manual verification team. While you may delete anything that does not violate the above rules, you are doing so at your own risk.


How and when do I get compensated?

We will give all participants that complete the study a $50 Amazon gift card as a thank you for their time and effort. Gift cards will be sent within 60 days of completing the study once the data has been verified by the researchers.

Gift cards will be sent via email to the address you specified after you (and, if you are under 18, your parent) consented to participate in this study.

I completed the survey and uploaded my data, but I was told I am not eligible for compensation. Why is this?

After your data is uploaded, it is checked by a researcher to ensure that it meets the study’s eligibility requirements. These requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • You correctly answered all data quality questions in the survey.
  • You exchanged direct messages with at least 15 people.
  • You flagged at least two conversations that made you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
  • All flagged conversations are in English.
  • Flagged conversations contain some sort of back-and-forth conversation (i.e. are not unsolicited spam that is immediately blocked).

If your uploaded data does not match these requirements, we will not be able to compensate you.

If, after being told that you are ineligible, you believe that we made an error in the verification process, then please email us at


When I open the study, I get a blank screen. What should I do?

If you are completing the study with Safari or a Chromium-based desktop browser (e.g. Chrome, Edge, or Brave), you may encounter a blank screen when starting the study. This means that your browser currently blocks cross-site cookies, which our study website requires. You can fix this by following the steps below:

With macOS Safari:

  1. Navigate to Safari > Preferences.
  2. Click Privacy.
  3. Deselect "Prevent cross-site tracking".

With iOS Safari:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Navigate to the Safari page.
  3. Deselect "Prevent cross-site tracking".

With Chrome or a derivative:

  1. Copy the following text: chrome://flags/#same-site-by-default-cookies
  2. Open a new tab and paste this into the address bar.
  3. Under the heading "SameSite by default cookies", click on the dropdown menu and select Disable.

With Firefox:

  1. Go to settings -> Privacy and Security
  2. Scroll down and find Cookies and Site Data
  3. click Manage Data, type in and then clear your data for it

After completing these steps, return to the study and refresh the page. If the study still does not appear, try closing and reopening your browser.

I cannot find the email for returning to the study. What should I do?

Please check your spam folder and trash for an email from STIR Lab.

If the email is not in your inbox, spam folder, or trash, please contact us via email at or send a text to (407) 984-6180.

I have not received my Instagram data file. What should I do?

Receiving a data file from Instagram can take up to 48 hours. If this time period has passed, please do the following:

  • Ensure that the email address you provided to Instagram is correct.
  • Check your spam folder and trash.
  • Send Instagram a second request.

If you are still having difficulty obtaining the file, please contact us via email at or send a text to (407) 984-6180.

I can’t view images and videos in my data. What should I do?

If you are using Firefox, your images and videos may not display correctly. To fix this, follow the steps below:

  1. Open Firefox options.
  2. Select "Privacy & Security".
  3. Select "Enhanced Tracking Protection".
  4. Select "Manage Exceptions".
  5. Add to the list.

My Instagram language is not English so your server cannot read my file. What should I do?

Please review these instructions for changing your Instagram language:

Change language settings on Instagram app on Android or iOS

  1. Open the Instagram app on your Android or iOS device
  2. Tap on the profile icon in the bottom right
  3. Tap the hamburger menu on the top right
  4. Select Settings on the bottom
  5. Tap on Account
  6. Tap on Language and select English from the list of available languages

Change language settings for Instagram in browser

  1. Click on your profile picture in the top right
  2. Select Profile
  3. Scroll down to the bottom and you should see a drop down icon alongside a language
  4. Click on it and select English

If you need further assistance, please contact us via email at or send a text to (407) 984-6180.