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About two years ago in 2018, Instagram rolled out a direct messaging feature that did not go down well with everybody. This update entailed a notification that reports on the user’s activity. It shows when last you were active on Instagram or if you are online or not or typing. Obviously, it makes it difficult to retain your privacy regarding your social media activities. It is hard to know these policy changes since they make these changes on the fly and expect users to fully read these long policy changes. Unfortunately, most people just skip reading the policies and drone on not knowing the risks they face. Below we will go over some of the pitfalls facing users.

The Initial Purpose of Instagram

Initially, the purpose of the Instagram application was to enable users to share photos. Users were able to control who they shared information with depending on their profile settings.

Instagram Privacy Policy Concerns

There have been some changes in respect to the privacy policy of Instagram since it was first rolled out. The Instagram privacy policy has become a matter of concern for users since Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1bn. With the new update, fears are rising even more than before and users are of the opinion that whatever they share or do on the application is out in the open and is compromising their privacy.

It is true that users have some type of control by turning some features on or off such as the Direct Messaging update. Alternatively, users always have the choice to make their profile public or private. However, regardless if a profile is public or private, there are features that are simply part of the application and that is bothersome.

Ways Instagram is Making Your Privacy Vulnerable With The Direct Messaging Feature:

1. It Accumulates A Lot Of Your Data

Without knowing it, Instagram has access to a lot of your information. The troublesome part is that many users do not even know it. With reference to the Instagram Privacy Policy, this includes information such as phone number, email address, information on how Instagram is used, who visits the website, what kind of device people are using, and identifiers that provide information on when users are online or when they log in.

Instagram Privacy IssuesThe sad part is that this practice is covered up by telling users that this information is used to help people access their information once they sign in and that the user’s information will help to improve the application, increasing the effectiveness of Instagram, and through this information, they can fix diagnosed technical glitches as well as testing new features and products that will enhance the application. The question is, should they do it at the expense of their user’s privacy? This all sounds too good to be regarded as true. 

2. Your Location Is Always Known Through Geotagging

Like many applications, Instagram is able to automatically gain access to the user’s location if it is activated. Yes, Instagram will know where a user is, and for how long if they do not turn off the location services settings manually. For the majority of devices, these settings are available under the Privacy menu.

It is important for users to know that when they add Geo or location tabs to their pictures, the information is captured and provides administrators a fairly good idea of where users spend most of their time. That is why users will start to see more advertisements relevant to their locations.

3. Every One Knows What You Like

A recent change made it easier to see what your friends are liking. Hover over an image and you will be able to see your friend’s name as well as all the amount of users who liked it. Should a user like something and do not want other people to know, there is little to no chance that it is covered under their privacy policy.

What are your options in regards to keeping your likes private?

You can find your old likes and unlike them if you want to keep your privacy intact. It’s unfortunate that you would have to do that to keep your likes private. You can also treat the like button as a public forum and not like anything you would not like others to know about. So you might want to not like that spicy photo that you don’t want your significant other to know about.

4. Social Media Accounts And Private Contact List Is Not Private with Instagram

Thought that the find friends option is a good idea? Not really. In order to find those friends, Instagram needs to access your contacts and use it to search for them on other social media sites.

A clever way Instagram seems to use to sidestep this privacy issue for users is to make it appear that it is an enhanced feature of the app that is to the benefit of the user to be able to link their Instagram profile with their other social media platforms such as Facebook. All this “convenience” comes at a price; the user’s privacy.

5. Others Knows Precisely What, You Are Doing, Where, and When

Everybody is not very excited about the new Direct Messaging application properties that provide real-time updates. It is true, you can turn off this feature, but that is not enough. Even if you turn off the feature, once you like or comment on a         picture, your friends will see your comment highlighted at the bottom regardless of what picture it is and on whose profile it is. Instagram tops that by allowing people to see who viewed their pictures or stories, who voted at a poll, and for what polls and the same goes for you! If you are ignoring a direct message from someone, sorry they will know that also.

6. Your Pictures Are No Longer Yours

Yes, it is true. If your profile is not private, anyone can use whatever photo is on your profile for whatever they feel fit. They can use it on a website or claim to be their owner.

According to various lawyers, once a person posts a picture on Instagram, regardless if you are the owner of the picture, the owner of the picture provides the platform to apply and use the picture for whatever reason they feel fit. The worst part is, the user permits other users to use the picture as well. Not exactly what you had in mind for your wedding pictures or your child’s images?

In conclusion

With the new updated Instagram Privacy Policy that was rolled out on 18 December 2020 and took effect on 20 December 2020, Instagram knows way more about its users than they might think. Users can manage this risk in some sense by turning location sharing off and keeping their profiles private.

Due to the threat to your privacy, the other alternative is to uninstall your app and not use Instagram. They and other major technology companies collect bits of your data, which gives them the opportunity to know your habits when combined and allow them to track your patterns. They sell this data to others to help them predict what you want and target you with ads.

The decision might come down to enjoying the benefits of social networking versus protecting your private information. I hope you choose wisely in the end.


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