Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Tech & The Web

Don’t Believe the Instagram Privacy Hoax!

You’ve probably already seen rumors about all of your private content being made public as of now. Stand down! It’s just an Instagram hoax.

An Instagram hoax claims that effective Thursday, the service’s new privacy policy will allow old messages and private photos to be used in court cases against its users.

“Everything you’ve ever posted becomes public from today,” the post states. Time points out that it’s oddly worded with “questionable legalese.”

But that’s never stopped anyone from being fooled before.

You know it’s a serious hoax when the head of the company posts about it. Yes, even Adam Mosseri, the head of the company, posted a recent story stating the rumors are untrue.

You’ve seen how this works before. The hoax warns users they must post a privacy notice that bans the service from using their content.

For some reason, every time one of these hoaxes appear, people actually post the notices. Somehow, they seem to believe that a single post overrides the terms of service they agreed to when they set up their account.

Somehow, one post stating no one has permission they’ve already given away becomes legally binding.

The anatomy of the hoax

To combat the company’s attempt to use your own content against you, you’re supposed to post this nonsense:

“With this statement, I give notice to Instagram it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents.”

I’m sure there are going to be people in my feed who’ll actually do it.

And I may just have to unfollow them.

And by the way, the Instagram hoax claims that even “private photos” are supposedly fair game. Is there a place to post “private” photos somewhere on Instagram?

I’ve never found a way to do that. Maybe they’re talking about photos in which the entire account is private. That’s the only thing I can figure.

But even a private account depends upon users agreeing to the same terms of service those with public accounts have.

So they’re out of luck, too.

At least when it comes to putting restrictions on something you’ve already given Instagram permission to use.

The moral of the story is simple: read the terms of service. Know what they say and know what you’re agreeing to.

That way, the next time one of these silly things comes along, you’ll be able to take a deep breath and keep scrolling.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.