No deciphering, No sneaky terminology, Here's a breakdown of of what you've given consent to in straightforward, simple terms.
When we sign on we say YES to Instagram doing this:
Every time we download an app, buy something online or use a web platform like Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook we agree to their terms - including their privacy policies.
But What Do Those Privacy Policies Mean?
Like billions of people, I use Instagram. They locked me out the other day and wanted my phone number to text me a code so I could get back in. I don't like giving my phone number out to anyone so this was kind of a big deal to me. It led me to the Privacy and Security section of Instagram and as I read through I thought, "How many people have any idea what Instagram is taking, getting or asking for every time they visit their account?" Here's what came when I queried the Instagram platform . . .
We took Instagram's privacy data policy and tried to put it into understandable terms. At the end of the story, we show you how to control some of your privacy.
If you haven't visited the Instagram Terms of Service and Data Policy here are a couple of screen shots of what you're faced with:
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
Here's where they talk about their Camera and how it ties in to the Data Policy:
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.
Breaking It Down: What Instagram Says It Collects
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.
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 use your Information to improve and promote their products. Okay, that makes sense. They connect all that 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 life in this Kingdom, hence the ads we get. They use all of this to measure what we do and attempt to analyze why. This is textbook research and development.
- 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.
- What Facebook -who owns Instagram- does with all this collected information is also in their Data Policy.
That's a whole lot of sharing of information.
Really, 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.
What Can You Do? Basic Instagram Privacy Fixes
#1 You Always Have The Option To Delete your account.
Be mindful that what you post has the potential to be seen by anyone and everyone.
What you Share on Instagram can be very public: You Share You in a Bikini to your Friends. Any one of them can screen shot it and share it. Even if you're account is Private - theirs may not be.
#2 Turn Off Camera and Microphone Access
Except when you're using the Camera and/or Mic 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> Instagram>Toggle Camera(photos) Microphone When Using
#3 Turn Off Your Location
Let's start with your location. 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 toggle off.
If you'd rather just decide post by post, photo by photo:
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).
#4 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
Un-toggle SHOW MY ACTIVITY STATUS and what you like and your comments will only be seen by you and your Insta-friend.
#5 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
And Speaking of that Story and your Selfie CAMERA - It might be time to put a Creep Blocker camera cover on it-because 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! Peel it off when you're ready to use your phone camera for what it was designed for and enjoy your privacy.
Here's The Letter I Got From The Instagram Team When I Asked For Clarity About Their Camera.
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: https://www.facebook.com/help/1297502253597210/?ref=cr
* 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.
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.
Information from Third-party Partners
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 (https://www.facebook.com/about/basics) or our Help Center (https://www.facebook.com/help) for additional information.
If you have more questions about our Data Policy (https://www.facebook.com/policy.php), 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?
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 (https://help.instagram.com/581066165581870?ref=CR ) to explain the services we offer as well as our Data Policy (https://help.instagram.com/519522125107875?ref=CR ) 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