Viral Instagram Post Stirs Up Privacy Threat, Tricks Celebs Before Being Debunked

Every now and then, social media users fall victim to a hoax announcement trying to warn them about potential data theft, a deep-rooted conspiracy against privacy, and whatnot. While a badly-written, allegedly official notice is easy to spot, many users still fall for it and create a chain that ensnares more people. Instagram is the latest platform to witness it (again), after a fake post went viral claiming that all users’ data, be it photos or messages, will go public unless they too share the post. Well, to put it clearly, the post was a hoax privacy scare and has now been debunked, but not before deceiving a lot of people, including celebrities.

“Everything you’ve ever posted becomes public from tomorrow. Even messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed”, said the viral post, trying to bank on the fact that Instagram is now a public company. It cited Channel 13, which is claimed to have spotted the false and non-existent change in Instagram’s privacy policy. Moreover, it advised users to copy and paste the warning in the original post that sought to stop Instagram from using their photos and other media shared on the platform.

The viral post, which has intermittent odd capitalisation and inconsistent font size, talked about the threat to people’s privacy and even cited a penal code of conduct to dissuade Instagram from using their data. The post was widely circulated, and as per a Washington Post report, celebrities like Julia Roberts, Usher, and Rob Lowe were duped into sharing it. Even the United States Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, fell for it and issued a warning to the Facebook-owned social media platform.

What appeared truly worrying was that even deleted photos were supposed to rise from the dead and all of it could be used by Instagram in any manner it deems usable, as per the post which has now been debunked. Instagram chief Adam Mosseri mentioned in his Instagram story that the post is false. Moreover, Facebook spokesperson Stephanie Otway also clarified to the Washington Post that there was no truth to the story.

Instagram’s Terms of Use, under the Permissions You Give to Us section, claims “nothing is changing about your rights in your content.” However, the terms also clearly state that when users post, share or upload a content, they give Instagram 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”.

But Instagram does not claim ownership of the content shared by users, and it definitely cannot revive deleted content for usage that falls under its policies, something that users never bother to read in the first place. The terms add, “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.”

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Maikel Du

I worked in many technical fields, but I always resort to blogging which has become an addiction to me

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