An Instagram handle is your username. This handle is unique to you. As a result, it makes it easier for others to find your profile.
If someone asks you for your Instagram handle, then it means that they are asking you for your username. It is the Insta version of asking someone for their address or phone number.
The problem with social media is that multiple users can have the exact same name. Therefore, it makes sense for people to have handles that are unique to their profiles.
For example, your name on Instagram could be Lisa Smith. However, your username might be @l_smith99. This is your handle. It is unique to you and nobody else can use it.
Think of it like a zip code. A small piece of text that will bring someone directly to your Instagram page.
Where can I find my Instagram handle?
To find your page’s Instagram handle, simply go to your profile and look at the top left-hand corner.
In the screenshot above, you can see that the name of the page is Jennifer Lopez. However, the handle in the top left-hand corner is jlo.
This username is completely unique to her page. Nobody else can use it. Another person can use the name Jennifer Lopez, but they cannot use the handle jlo.
If they attempt to do so, Instagram will display an error message.
This makes it much easier to find other people’s pages.
For example, if I type a user’s handle into the Instagram search page, the app will show me the exact profile that I am looking for.
Otherwise, I might have to scroll down through a list of pages with the exact same name.
Although this might seem like a big for “unique” names, imagine the difficulty of trying to find a James Smith or a Maria Garcia.
Why do people use the word handle instead of username?
The word “handle” is just another way of saying “username”.
The word originates from the 1970s, when radio users would identify themselves by using nicknames. This unique “nickname” allowed them to avoid confusion if two people had the same name.
For example, if you wanted to tell Michael Smith something, then you would address him by his nickname. That way, the other Michael Smith five blocks away would know that the message wasn’t for him.
These nicknames eventually became known as handles.
In the 1990s, online chat rooms made the word even more popular. This is because many Internet users went by handles instead of their real names. Not only did it help to avoid any confusion, it also protected their identity.
As a result, the words username and handle became closely linked over the years.
This is why one person might ask you for your Instagram handle, while another person might ask you for your username.
In reality, they are pretty much the same thing.