The act of liking someone's really old Instagram post is called "deep-liking," which is pretty apt if you think about it. While going "deep" into older posts on the feed of your ex or crush or whoever, your finger may slip accidentally and double-tap on a photo or video that you'd rather not let them know you're looking at.
Been there? Done that? Mm-hm. It happens to the best of us, but it's not that big a deal. There's an effortless way to prevent your ex — or whomever you're lurking on — from knowing that you just spent the last two hours combing over every detail of their online Instagram life.
So what do you do? First thing's first, immediately unlike the photo or video! Tap the heart icon to take it back (double-tapping again won't work). It can't be stressed enough: the sooner you unlike the media, the better chance you have of not getting caught.
Now, scroll to the top of the user's feed and like the most recent photo they've posted. At least now, when that person gets a notification that you've liked one of their posts, it won't link back to the one from 50 weeks ago, but rather to their most recent one. However, if you're super fast at unliking the post, you may not need to like a new post.
To reiterate: unlike the old post quickly + like a newer post afterward.
Doing the above will save you a lot of paranoia, and it's also going to prevent you from looking like a total creep in some cases. Even if the person's most recent photo is from two weeks ago, there's a good chance that it means they don't regularly check their IG activity or have notifications turned on, which means you'll still be in the clear.
Of course, if it's your ex, their new girlfriend, an old boss, Mike Pence's bunny rabbit, or whomever you'd rather not interact with, you'll just have to accept the fact that that person is going to know that you liked one of their photos. Unless, again, you're quick enough to unlike that you don't need to like a newer post to make up for it. They might not ever see anything in that case.
But with the unlike-and-then-like-a-newer-post trick — the only way to hide the accidental like — the person you're stalking on Instagram doesn't get to know that you loved an image or vid from weeks, months, or years ago. Once you unlike the old content and cover your tracks by liking a more recent one, your deep-like will disappear from their activity, allowing the whole thing to look more natural and save you a lot of face.
This article was produced during Gadget Hacks' special coverage on becoming a social media expert on your phone. Check out the whole Social Media series.