It’s easy to believe that Instagram is spying on you, especially given the amount of personal information the app requests and for which users give permissions. And doubly because it is owned by Facebook, a company not known for its privacy rights.
But is it the paranoia speaking? Is Instagram Really Spying On You? Can Instagram read your posts, for example? Here’s why you might be concerned that the scope of the app is greater than it initially seemed when you installed it.
Is Instagram spying on you?
Let’s say it: yes, Instagram knows a lot about you. Facebook as a business certainly does this because the apps it owns (including messaging apps, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger) share data with each other.
Even if you are not on Facebook itself, you have a ghost profile, which is data that is linked to you based on other services you use and that integrates Facebook in some way. of another.
Remember the adage: if you don’t pay for the product, you are the product. Facebook provides these services to you for free, but there is always a price to pay and that price is personal information. The data can be resold and used for advertising purposes.
Many users aren’t worried: they pass on an email address, date of birth, and more Personally Identifiable Information (PII). We are used to it. But Instagram can also go further and sell what it collects.
In fact, a 2021 pCloud study found Instagram to be “the most invasive app,” selling 79% of user data to third parties. It even exceeds Facebook, which sells 57% of the information collected. (However, the two share 86% of the data within the company.)
Does Instagram follow you?
So how does Instagram know so much about you? That is, apart from all the permissions you give it and the details you submit when registering. It comes down to tracking, not just your location.
pCloud has found that Instagram tracks and sells on your browser and search history, location, usage data, IDs, and of course content submitted to the platform.
The initial red flag should be raised when users first see “Last logged in” in their direct messages (DMs), indicating that habits are traceable and shareable. You can, luckily, turn this off (go to Settings by clicking on the vertical ellipses, then Confidentiality> Activity status) so that subscribers cannot see when you are active.
Nonetheless, it does prove that these logs are saved and that there is a hidden layer of data to everything including the photos you upload. These contain EXIF data, like the date and time the photo was taken, and using what device.
It can also track who you know, going to your contact list to connect you with friends in the same way using Instagram.
Does Instagram access your texts?
If Instagram can access details stored outside of its own platform i.e. contacts, camera and photos, you are right to wonder if it can also read your messages or even call history.
This seems unlikely because safeguards are in place.
Apple users are particularly well protected, with their applications running in isolated sandboxes that keep interactions between services minimal or nonexistent. It depends on permissions and that’s why your iPhone will ask you to give apps access to your camera, mic, or whatever before continuing.
Additionally, iMessages are encrypted, so even if they were intercepted, they would be unreadable without the proper decryption key.
But it may be different for Android users. Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook attested:
“Recording call and text history is part of a signup feature for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android. It helps you find and stay connected with the people you care about, and gives you a better experience on Facebook. People have to expressly agree to use this feature. ”
This controversy was addressed directly on Facebook itself, but it could be a larger issue. True, there have been reports of users downloading all the data Facebook collects and finding call and SMS logs.
It is important to note here that accessing texts and reading them are two different things. Instagram doesn’t read your texts. As mentioned, iMessages are encrypted anyway and beyond that, Facebook assures users that “This feature does not collect content from your calls or text messages.”
What could be collected is only the metadata, not what you actually write or speak.
Facebook maintains that this is an opt-in service, that all data is secure, and that it is not sold to third parties.
Does Instagram read your DMs?
What about direct messages sent in the app? You can often see when the recipient has read a DM (if neither of you have disabled this feature), but can Instagram read your messages itself?
Again, metadata is collected – Instagram can see when DMs are sent, how often, and when you are active. It is an integral part of using the app. Can the app read what you write?
The chat is not yet encrypted on Instagram, but there is talk of integration with WhatsApp, another service provided by Facebook that encrypts messages. Still, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri responded to these concerns:
“We don’t watch your messages, we don’t listen to your microphone, [because] doing that would be super problematic for a lot of different reasons. But I admit you’re not really going to believe me. ”
Likewise, in an article on hate speech, Instagram reaffirmed that “DMs are for private conversations, [so] we don’t use technology to proactively detect content like hate speech or bullying the same way we do in other places. ”
It looks like Instagram doesn’t read your DMs. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the ability. Instagram’s data policy has a few worrying clauses:
“We collect the content, communications and other information you provide when you use our Products, including when you create an account, create or share content and messages, or communicate with others.
“We also receive and analyze the content, communications and information that other people provide when using our Products. This may include information about you, for example when others share or comment on a photo of you, you send a message or download, sync or import your contact details. ”
It’s a big gray area.
Of course, other people can still share your messages by copy, screenshot, etc., so you should always be vigilant.
Is Instagram safe to use?
For now, at least, it looks like Instagram can access the metadata shared within the service and whatever apps you connect it to. But they cannot (in some cases) or do not collect the actual content of the messages.
It is undoubtedly an invasive application, but it is up to individuals to determine whether the service is worth the trade-off.
Worried that someone knows how to hack your Instagram? Here’s how they could do it and how to prevent it.
About the Author