What this Instagram hoax reveals about Big Tech and our privacy
by Jackie A
4 weeks ago
That it's the silly season and we signed away our privacy by pressing "Agree" a long ago?
Ok Ms. Sass - how to kill a newsletter in one line or what. Yes, it's the dead end of August and yes people on their sun loungers downing bucket loads of iced rosé are really gullible. Just play the game and ask me what this story is about.
Tell me - what is this story all about?
Well, earlier last week someone posted a typo-ridden, fear-mongering warning about an alleged change in Instagram's privacy terms that - guess what? - would allow the company to use your pictures and messages in any way it wanted. “Everything you’ve ever posted becomes public from today,” it cautioned. Loads of indignant celebrities and people who should know better took umbrage and reposted it.
Our 14 year old, guardian of all things Instagram/Snap in our house, immediately called it out as a fake. So who were the suckers?
SO many celebs with millions of followers - Usher, Pink, Marc Jacobs, Martha Stewart, Julianne Moore, Julia Roberts (surprising), Beyoncé’s mom, One Direction's Niall Horan (not surprising) and even the US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry (he's from Texas and is only in control of US nuclear weapons, lol). Smug Twitter trolls blamed credulous baby boomers. Probably rightly. Former West Wing actor Rob Lowe was duly roasted by his more internet-literate sons for re-posting it.
Disappointing that Roberts wasn't more street-wise - I mean those varying font sizes scream "weird ransom note". And what the heck is the "Rome Statute" anyway?
A treaty that founded the International Criminal Court which presides over genocidal Ugandan army commanders and the like—it couldn't give a fig about your jumping-in-the-air boomerangs, though many would deem this behaviour worthy of being tried in the Hague. FYI have a live-stream look inside the ICC courts here. And those law codes are gobbledegook. Law “UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103” does not exist, although the UCC stands for the Uniform Commercial Code, which governs sales contracts and commercial transactions.
Happily it provided the opportunity for much mirth on what is becoming a narcissistic, capitalist platform that ruins your mental health
Indeed. Our favourite riposte was by Laura Brown, witty InStyle editor-in-chief and "unnatural blond" who wrote her own missive: "Don't forget tomorrow starts the new Instagram rule where they can use your photos to ensure you never find a mate, or form any meaningful friendships. Instagram will achieve this by deleting your most liked posts.." etc. Second fave was @hanukhanuk , whoever she is, who wrote: "Dear Instagram, you may share my photos if you find me a husband or send me cases of vodka with a bartender (with option of being my husband). Oh, and verify my account because there’s not many “Hanuk” out there." Funny women. World needs more of them.
So what did the geeks of Instagram say?
I mean. The whole hoax just proves how little we trust Big Tech and platforms like Instagram
Yep, forget your holiday gurning pics and goofy videos, what Facebook/Instagram is really doing is scraping every piece of data they can from your app - from your Bluetooth signal strength and device battery level to your movements within the app itself. It collects it all and then sells that on so ads are tailored to appeal specifically to you. Or not. Let's also not forget the platform is awash with fake bot-generated followers (buy 5,000 for only £29.99) and whole accounts that are bought and an army of people wanting to "organically manage and grow" your account. (FYI at Soda Says we don't buy followers. We sometimes buy each other oat milk lattes, but that's it).
Wasn't there an even better Instagram story out there this week?
The hoax story had competition from Nashville-based influencer Tiffany Mitchell who appeared to take dodgy Instagram posts to a new low. Mitchell posted a curiously beautiful picture of her motorcycle accident that may or may not have been an ad for an artfully positioned bottle of Smartwater. JEE. SUS.
Here, you decide.
This isn’t the first time Instagram has had to deal with hoaxes related to copyright infringement and user privacy. In 2012 and 2016, a nearly identical memo was making the rounds on Facebook, which owns Instagram. Watch out for another circa 2022 so you won't get fooled again.