“I hereby do not authorize Instagram…”

by | Aug 22, 2019

Instagram hoax nothing new

Let me stop you right there.  Chances are you’ve either seen the viral post yourself or heard about it.  For those of you who haven’t here’s a summary.  A post was making its way around Instagram recently claiming that a new rule/law was going into effect that would give Instagram the rights to all of your content and could then do whatever it wants, without your consent.

If you want to see the original post, here it is:

So what’s all this mean?

Essentially, it claims that a new rule goes into effect that gives Instagram all rights to anything you post, leaving you with nothing.  Your content can even supposedly be used litigation against you, although I’m quite sure how or why Instagram would want to sue you (unless you know something I don’t, but that’s between you and them).  In order to protect yourself from this (as if it were that easy), you’re supposed to post (or presumably repost) a copy of the original post with text to the effect of “I hereby don’t give Instagram permission to use my posts…” and it goes on to list some fictional laws to back up the story.

This is nothing new

Clearly this isn’t true – the terrible writing is usually a giveaway that something isn’t quite right, for one thing.  How come hoaxers never have English skills higher than a 3rd-grade level?  This also isn’t an original idea.  This kind of thing has been going around for years, starting with the AOL days (AOL whatnow?).  My first experience with it was a few years ago, when I started seeing a bunch of Facebook posts on various profiles specifically telling Facebook (and anyone else who will listen) that they “hereby” (it’s very important to use the word “hereby”, it’s how you can sound smarter than you are)refuse to allow Facebook to use any of their posts, photos, etc…

There are two problems with this: First, you aren’t giving up your right to anything.  You are, and will always be, the owner of your content.  According to Instagram’s terms of service (Facebook’s, too), you’re simply granting them a license to use your data for marketing purposes.  What data?  Things like the location information from your photos, hashtags, comments, etc.  They use that information to sell to advertisers and help them target their ads to the right audience.  Second, you agree to this when you agree to their terms of service when you create your account.  Simply creating a post that says “I hereby don’t allow” changes nothing.  It’s just a post.  You can’t just decide to change a contract because you feel like it.  If you don’t like Instagram’s (or anyone else’s) terms of service, then don’t use the service.

To be clear, Instagram is not going to take your photos and use them to sue you!

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