More Tech Wellness Topics

Articles Expertise

Instagram Privacy. Here's What You Need to Know How The Camera, Microphone and The Facebook and Instagram Privacy Policy

Facebook, Like Amazon and Apple, Hired People To Listen To YOU!

Yes, just like Amazon and Apple, Facebook who also owns Instagram, has hired people to snoop on what your saying.  They hear you through the microphone on your computer and your phone.

We all knew that they were listening--because we would say something--not even on Facebook or Instagram- in fact we may have said it while we were watching TV or just talking to a friend and then minutes later we saw that ad.  The ad for the shoes we just told a friend we liked.  We mentioned we couldn't wait to bike Iceland and then, we went on Facebook and saw THAT AD.  The Bike Rentals In Iceland ad.  OMG how did they know?  We knew.  We knew they had heard us.

The Privacy Policy seems to indicate that it could.  We show you where below.

Mark Zuckerburg says NO, Facebook does not utilize users Microphones-

That was back in April at the Senate hearings about Facebook and user data

" . .  . You're talking about that conspiracy theory that gets passed around saying that we listen to your microphone and use that for ads--No we don't do that"

But Listening to Customers Recorded message is exactly what Facebook did- and now admits to.

Read about the discovery in this report by Bloomberg. It talks about the contractors that were hired to listen and transcribe customers recorded conversations-apparently to make sure that Facebook AI was working.   HMMMM.

Even though Facebook claims that this breach of privacy only happened to people who chose to have their messenger chat transcribed,  this admission of snooping tends to make you realize it might happen to anyone who uses Instagram or Facebook.   After all, Facebook and Instagram do have access to your microphone and camera- and they say they "collect" any data you give them- while you're using "their tools" 

Read about the Privacy Policy- but first

What To Do Now? Top Instagram and Facebook Privacy Hacks

#1 You Always Have The Option To Delete Your Account.  At The Very Least, Log Off When You're Not On.

We keep our account Logged Off when were not specifically using Facebook or Instagram.  Yes, some consider it a pain to log off and log on.  We're used to it and we know we're safer this way. It's not foolproof, because sometimes there are developer tools that are being used now that can actually keep Facebook and Instagram “running in the background, but it’s a basic pre-caution.

#2 Turn Off Microphone Access. This May Stop Instagram and Facebook From Listening All The Time:


You may not have realized it, but you actually probably have given Facebook/Instagram access to your microphone when you posted a story or a video. Or sometimes when you do a software update, you'll find that the setting has been enabled for you.  How nice right?  So, even if you aren't sure your said yes to having Facebook and Instagram listen in, check now-

First go to Settings on your phone or computer and You'll See Privacy

Facebook Privacy hack

 Then, tap where it says Microphone and disable Facebook and other Apps that don't need to access your microphone.

Settings> Privacy>Microphone> ONLY TOGGLE ON WHEN YOU ARE POSTING.  Toggle off after.

How to stop Facebook From listening to Microphone

#3 Don't let Instagram And Facebook Have Access To Your Camera--All the Time.

 Except when you're using the Camera  to post to Instagram or Facebook. The only time they both really need to be enabled is when you're loading a video or story. Why give the Facebook enterprise access to it when you don't have to

Settings> Privacy>Camera> ONLY TOGGLE ON WHEN YOU ARE POSTING.  Toggle off after.

Turn off the camera from instagram

And while we're talking Cameras and who can get access to them- we need to point out that sometimes the apps you download can end up having tools installed that allow hacker to access your camera(sad but true) -  For me,  Creep Blocker  camera covers are the answer.  I actually always have my selfie-cam covered because it seems that everytime I look at my phone-it's laying down with that camera pointed up and I would much rather see a cute CreepBlocker, than wonder if someone's viewing me when I don't want to be!  Even if Instagram doesn't have access to your selfie-cam, other scammy apps can get access.  It's a disgusting reality of the digital age. But absolutely no one sees anything when the camera is covered! I peel it off when I need to use my phone camera and then it goes right back on.

webcam cover


#4 Turn Off Your Location

Here's another possible privacy stealer. Do you really need to tell everyone where you are all the time? If not:

Disable location through your iPhone or Android under Setting> Privacy> Location. Just Say Never.


If you'd rather just decide to add the location-post by post, photo by photo here's how to do that.

You can add a location to a photo or video you've already shared or edit the location you originally included. To add or edit your location, first tap above your photo or video. Then tap Edit.

  • To add a location: Tap Add Location... and enter the location.
  • To edit a location: Tap the location name, then tap Remove Location or Change Location (iOS) / Select Other Location or tap "X" from Select a Location Page (Android).


#5 Keep Your Activity Private

Do you ever get a little stalk-y and check out what your Followers are liking and posting? Well, you actually do have the Controls when it comes to who see's your activity through an Instagram Setting Called Activity Status.

Getting To Instagram Settings: On your Home Page, Tap the Hamburger (3 horizontal lines) Scroll Down and You'll Find Settings At the Bottom.

To Prevent Others From Seeing Your Activity: Settings> Privacy and Security>Activity Status 

privacy and security


Un-toggle SHOW MY ACTIVITY STATUS and what you like and your comments will only be seen by you and your Insta-friend.


#6 Hide Stuff - Control Who See's Your Instagram Story

Did you want everyone to see that Instagram Story?  Even your Ex or your mom or that acquaintance? Each Time you post the story you can decide who you want to see your stories. 


Settings> Privacy and Security> Story Controls 

story controls


#8 Do Not Use Messenger--or What's App-  to Send Messages.

Facebook hired several hundred people to LISTEN to Messenger recordings. Try using Signal to communicate with friends.

Turn Off All Microphone Access on iPhone

Here's a link to a story specifically addressing turning off your microphone. Check out these tips!


So what about Instagram and Facebook?  What does their policy say about your content?

Well, if you use Facebook and Instagram you also give them a non-exclusive license that allows them to modify, post, display and change your posts- videos, photos and the words you write too-

 . ..  you hereby grant to us a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings).

BUT, unlike FaceApp. they give you the power to STOP it - this from their latest policy.

You can end this license anytime by deleting your content or account. However, content will continue to appear if you shared it with others and they have not deleted it.

And what exactly can they do with that content?

Well, they don't pay you-but they can show your name and photos, your actions-which could be things you say or like, who you follow, ads you engage and MORE.

WHAT exactly is Your Content?  Let's break down the Instagram and Facebook Privacy Policy so We Know What We're Giving Permission To

No deciphering, No sneaky terminology, Here's a breakdown of of what you've given consent to in straightforward, simple terms.

What does the Instagram Privacy Policy Say about Your Information, including your camera?

We took Instagram's privacy data policy and tried to put it into understandable terms.  At the end of this story, some tips on taking control of your privacy on Instagram.

HINT: Toggle off Instagram's Camera and Microphone Access Anytime You're Not Using THEM! 

Breaking It Down: What Facebook's Instagram Says It Collects

So, I took the list of Information Instagram's Privacy Policy says it's collecting when you use it and attempted to put it in understandable, bottom line terms.  To be clear, you're saying it's okay to give Instagram these things . . .  starting with perhaps the most mind-blowing: 

Things You Provide:

  • What the Instagram Camera and other tools see when operating. Hmm. Okay, So I'm thinking that the "Instagram Camera" means the "camera on my phone when Instagram is open"  Does that mean that when I'm using the camera to take a picture or a video or go live while I'm using Instagram they are taking that information? OR, does it mean that anytime I use the camera while the app is open, and I end up deleting or not posting what the camera took pictures of-- does Instagram call those photos and videos content I provide?                                                                                                The policy says "Content You Provide" can include what you see through features they provide, such as their camera. I reached out to Instagram via email, I asked them about this twice. 

instagram camera privacy hack

When I asked for clarity on whether they are using the Instagram Camera to Collect the photos I take but don't post - their response didn't exactly answer my question. Instead it was communicated that they needed it to "process data" and that if they couldn't process data, then I wouldn't be able to use Instagram. You can read the letter at the end of the article.

  • The information you give when you initially sign up.
    Your email address, Your name etc.
  • Every photo you post or take and the locations you share.
  • Facebook profile Feed Info like religious views, political views, who you're interested in. (This is NOTED in the Instagram Data Policy, which indicates that your Instagram and Facebook information are one). They note that some countries offer "special protection" for that information. 
  • Everything You Post. Everything You Do. Everywhere You Go. They collect info about the people, pages, accounts, hashtags and groups you look at or belong to. And anything you upload to Facebook, Instagram or Messenger.
  • What you look at, who you communicate with and how long you do interact.
  • What you buy, the credit card you use and where it ships.
  • Also, they point out that if someone else using Facebook, Instagram or messenger shares information about you, they are collecting that too.
  • They collect information about the device you're using when you're on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger. They take the OS, hardware and software versions, your browser type, app and file names and plugins. Your network or mobile operator, mobile phone number and IP address. They can and do know if your full screen or background and how your mouse is moving.  The get device ID's Games and app and account ID's and Family Device ID's that are "unique to Facebook Family Products.
  • Cookies! Cookie ID's settings etc.  Remember, cookies are left on your device, if you allow it, by other sites you visit.

Don't Have A Facebook Account?  You're not out of the Privacy Woods.

This is AMAZING to think about: 

  • Instagram and Facebook also get information about You from Apps, Developers, Advertisers and Publishers via Facebook Business Tools. These are companies who either pay to advertise or provide Instagram with apps or tools. Even the LIKE button is considered either an App or a Developer.
  • Even if you don't have a Facebook account or aren't logged in to Facebook or Instagram, other "partners" or "third parties" who use Facebook Business Tools can provide Instagram with information about what you bought from them or how you used their site.
  • Even what you do offline. Yep. Off Line. How? For example, if you have a loyalty card and you do some actual shopping in a real life store, that loyalty card information syncs with your online information so the store has your online and offline info. 
  • They even note that if you have Facial Recognition turned on-they use it to recognize you in photos, video and camera experiences. They make it a point to say that they will let us know when it's introduced to Instagram. Oh boy.

So, What Facebook -Who Owns Instagram - Does With All This Information?

They use your Information to improve and promote their products.  They connect all our treasured information from a number of places and people in order give us a nice tailored experience, wherever we go in the Facebook Kingdom. They use our location to help improve our experience on Facebook and Instagram and in our daily lives. And we see it--in the ads we're served. They use all of this to measure what we do and attempt to analyze why. 

That's the Facebook model now.  We provide super detailed information to them with every Facebook and Instagram move-they compile it and use it and share it with tons of third parties-and companies who advertise with them.  They don't sell it.  They just share it. 

What others do with it, is really not under Facebook or Instagram's control- although they are asked to agree to privacy stipulation. We all know there are  hackers, bad actors or even employees of the Company's that  information is shared with. Anything can happen.

Honestly anything you share can become anybody's business. You can delete it and erase your data but know that it's stored until it is no longer necessary to provide services.  It's not really clear how long that search history you delete stays around. 

So bottom line,  think before you search, post, visit, comment or approve an App to be used by your Instagram account.

Want to see what DATA you've shared with Instagram??

how to see what instagram knows about me


I'm not a lawyer but having my own business for two decades gave me a chance to read and decipher  through quite a few contracts and agreements. Sometimes lawyers would help me through the questions and what I learned is that I really had to learn the questions to ask and read to interpret.

I Asked Instagram Questions Specifically About Their Camera. and here's The Letter I Got From The Instagram Team When I Asked For Clarity. 


Thanks for your question about the kinds of information Facebook collects. Please read the section of our Data Policy below to learn more:

To provide the Facebook Products, we must process information about you. The types of information we collect depend on how you use our Products. You can learn how to access and delete information we collect by visiting the Facebook Settings and Instagram Settings.

Things You and Others Do and Provide

1. Information and content you provide. We collect the content, communications and other information you provide when you use our Products, including when you sign up for an account, create or share content, and message or communicate with others. This can include information in or about the content you provide (like metadata), such as the location of a photo or the date a file was created. It can also include what you see through features we provide, such as our camera, so we can do things like suggest masks and filters that you might like, or give you tips on using portrait mode. Our systems automatically process content and communications you and others provide to analyze context and what's in them for the purposes described below. Learn more about how you can control who can see the things you share here:

* Data with special protections: You can choose to provide information in your Facebook profile fields or Life Events about your religious views, political views, who you are "interested in," or your health. This and other information (such as racial or ethnic origin, philosophical beliefs or trade union membership) could be subject to special protections under the laws of your country.

2. Networks and connections. We collect information about the people, Pages, accounts, hashtags and groups you are connected to and how you interact with them across our Products, such as people you communicate with the most or groups you are part of. We also collect contact information if you choose to upload, sync or import it from a device (such as an address book or call log or SMS log history), which we use for things like helping you and others find people you may know and for the other purposes listed below.

3. Your usage. We collect information about how you use our Products, such as the types of content you view or engage with; the features you use; the actions you take; the people or accounts you interact with; and the time, frequency and duration of your activities. For example, we log when you're using and have last used our Products, and what posts, videos and other content you view on our Products. We also collect information about how you use features like our camera.

4. Information about transactions made on our Products. If you use our Products for purchases or other financial transactions (such as when you make a purchase in a game or make a donation), we collect information about the purchase or transaction. This includes payment information, such as your credit or debit card number and other card information; other account and authentication information; and billing, shipping and contact details.

5. Things others do and information they provide about you. We also receive and analyze content, communications and information that other people provide when they use our Products. This can include information about you, such as when others share or comment on a photo of you, send a message to you, or upload, sync or import your contact information.

Device Information

As described below, we collect information from and about the computers, phones, connected TVs and other web-connected devices you use that integrate with our Products, and we combine this information across different devices you use. For example, we use information collected about your use of our Products on your phone to better personalize the content (including ads) or features you see when you use our Products on another device, such as your laptop or tablet, or to measure whether you took an action in response to an ad we showed you on your phone on a different device.

Information we obtain from these devices includes:

- Device attributes: information such as the operating system, hardware and software versions, battery level, signal strength, available storage space, browser type, app and file names and types, and plugins.

- Device operations: information about operations and behaviors performed on the device, such as whether a window is foregrounded or backgrounded, or mouse movements (which can help distinguish humans from bots).

- Identifiers: unique identifiers, device IDs, and other identifiers, such as from games, apps or accounts you use, and Family Device IDs (or other identifiers unique to Facebook Company Products associated with the same device or account).

- Device signals: Bluetooth signals, and information about nearby Wi-Fi access points, beacons, and cell towers.

- Data from device settings: information you allow us to receive through device settings you turn on, such as access to your GPS location, camera or photos.

- Network and connections: information such as the name of your mobile operator or ISP, language, time zone, mobile phone number, IP address, connection speed and, in some cases, information about other devices that are nearby or on your network, so we can do things like help you stream a video from your phone to your TV.

- Cookie data: data from cookies stored on your device, including cookie IDs and settings. Learn more about how we use cookies in the Facebook Cookies Policy ( and Instagram Cookies Policy (

Information from Third-party Partners

Websites, apps and businesses you visit or use can send us information through Facebook Technologies they use, including our social plug-ins (such as the Like button), Facebook Login, our APIs and SDKs, or the Facebook pixel or Instagram pixel. These partners provide information about your activities off Facebook, including information about your device, websites you visit, purchases you make, the ads you see, and how you use their services, whether or not you have a Facebook account or are logged into Facebook. For example, a game developer could use our API to tell us what games you play, or a business could tell us about a purchase you made in its store. To learn more about how we use cookies in connection with Facebook Technologies, review the Facebook Cookies Policy and Instagram Cookies Policy.

We also receive information about you directly from partners who confirm they have the rights to provide us with your information, such as companies that gather publicly available information or help other businesses (such as retailers) identify or reach people interested in their products or services, or from research partners we collaborate with for the purposes described below. This can include demographic information, purchases and other interactions with businesses

Learn more about the types of partners we receive data from here:

If you have another question or concern, please visit Privacy Basics ( or our Help Center ( for additional information.

If you have more questions about our Data Policy (, please reply to this email.


The Instagram Team

That Didn't Exactly Answer my question . . . So I Tried Again

Thank you for your reply.

I’m concerned about what’s collected with your tools—like the  Instagram Camera(and other tools.) Your policy says in “Content You Provide” can include what you see through features,  such as your  camera.  Does that mean when I do a “Live” or Post a Story or just when I’m about to do a story—but have the camera on when and I’m in the Instagram app, or it is enabled or running—Is Instagram is seeing and collecting what’s being viewed in the camera lens?

What if I delete a story or do not post the story, just record it.  Does Instagram consider that “Information and Content You Provide” because I am using an Instagram product i.e. the camera as I’m creating a video that I may or may not post?

Thank you,



And Then Jack With Privacy Operations at Facebook Replied


Thanks for contacting us. We've reviewed your report, and it looks like you're objecting to the processing of all of your data. However, to provide you with Instagram, we need to be able to collect and use certain types of information about you. The types of information we collect about you depend on how you use our products. If we were to stop all processing of your data, you wouldn't be able to use Instagram.

We’ve updated our Terms ( ) to explain the services we offer as well as our Data Policy ( ) to make it easier to understand the data we collect and how we use it in Instagram and other Facebook Products. Here are a few examples of what you’ll find in our updated Terms and Data Policy:

- Personalized experience: Everyone’s experience on Instagram is unique, and we’re providing more information on how this works. We explain how we use data and why it’s needed to customize the posts and ads you see, as well as the accounts we suggest.

- What we share: We will never sell your information to anyone. We have a responsibility to keep people’s information safe and secure, and we impose strict restrictions on how our partners can use and disclose data. We explain all of the circumstances where we share information and make our commitments to people more clear in the “How is this information shared?” section of the Data Policy.

- Advertising: Our Data Policy explains how we decide which ads to show you in the “How do we use this information” and “How is this information shared” section of the Data Policy. We don’t share your information with advertisers.

While we need to process your data so that you can use Instagram, you have many ways to control your data. This includes settings to make sure you share only what you want with the people you want to see it.

Learn how to customize your privacy settings so you're in control of your Instagram experience:

We hope this helps, but please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.


Jack, Privacy Operations
Privacy Operations

More Tech Wellness Topics


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published