The knowledge that Facebook owns Instagram adds another wrinkle to the data protection picture. In wake if the recent Cambridge Analytica controversy, where a political data firm misused the private data for more than 50 million Facebook users, many people are raising questions about the way Facebook's partners and subsidiaries manage their information.
Instagram has since updated its policies about data use, replacing a 2013-era policy with one most recently updated in April 2018. Let's review the highlights:
What Information Does Instagram Collect?
Instagram can collect the following from registered users:
- Names and passwords of account holders.
- Captured content, such as photos and videos.
- Data that links users to the photos they took, tagged or liked.
- Text message history, address book contacts or other similar personal information.
- Metadata on how people use the Instagram mobile app.
- Transactional data from Facebook products and services.
- Facial recognition data.
- Data on which devices are linked to which accounts.
- Geolocational data.
How Does Instagram Use the Information?
As with many other social networks, Instagram's main motive for building a cache of data is to personalize the ads that show up on your feed. Ad targeting changes are made based on a lot of different data: your personal account info, your usage patterns, your location and more. But it's not just your data that shapes your feed. Instagram collects and utilizes the same kinds of data from a variety of users, not just the person seeing the ad in question.
Instagram also uses facial recognition data to automatically recognize when you appear in photos. Other data Instagram collects helps the company perform strategic market research, communicate directly with users and counter suspected misuse.
How Does Instagram Protect Data?
Since the Instagram platform is based on publicly sharing photos, a lot of content is public. Instagram warns users to be careful about sharing and communicating their content. To protect users further, however, the company is changing how data generated on their sites and apps are kept and shared.
Instagram has always had account settings that allow you to control who can see and access your data. But when you employ third-party apps, such as web-based Instagram viewers, you may unwittingly agree to make your photo content visible in search engines. Ad data shared with partners has demographic details in it, but it does not have personally identifying details.
Now under Instagram’s new policy, allied app developers won't be able to use your data unless you've used Instagram in the past three months. Furthermore, logins for these allied apps will be required to tell you whether they use advanced personal data.
If you choose to delete your Instagram account, your posts will vanish, but data shared by others isn't considered part of your account. Instagram will hang on to it.
Learn how to help protect your data
Giving away large amounts of potentially identifiable information is a fact of life when using today's most popular apps. Enrolling in Identity Guard can help you learn how data is filtered out to the internet and what you can do to help protect your personal information.
Additionally, if you’re a parent concerned about your child facing cyberbullies on Instagram, learn more about Identity Guard’s Premier Family Plan that includes alerts of potentially cyberbullying on popular social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Google+.