Instagram’s New Data Policy as of December 21, 2020

On December 20, Madonna has warned her fans about Instagram’s new privacy policy.

She said, “Starting tomorrow, Instagram’s new cyber surveillance policies allow Mark Zuckerberg to spy on you and your family, steal your most intimate secrets and monitor your compliance with government mandates through all your devices – including your television – and sell your data to government and industry or punish you for disobedience.”

That’s sounds scary.

So, I reviewed Instagram’s Data Policy again. (it’s difficult to follow because they keep updating their policy frequently)

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According to the Instagram website, they collect content, communications, and other information includes:

  • Sign up for an account (I’m not sure what does it mean, but maybe the access point, time, how long you use the app, etc)
  • Types of content you view or engage with
  • Create or share content and message or communicate with others
  • Location of a photo or the date a file was created
  • Information about your hashtags, groups you are connected to, people you communicate with the most, or groups you are part of
  • Contact information if you choose to upload, sync, or import it from a device (Facebook automatically imported my contact information from email in the past, they really need to make sure “ask permission to users”)
  • The actions you take (likes or shares)
  • Purchase history, credit or debit card number and other card information, billing, shipping, and contact details
  • Information from and about the computers, phones, connected TVs, and other web-connected devices you use that integrate with our Instagram/Facebook
  • Location-related information, your current location, where you live, the places you like to go, and the businesses and people you’re near-to (if you’ve allowed them to collect it)
  • What you see through features Instagram provide, such as your camera

The last one, “what you see through features Instagram/Facebook provide, such as your camera.”

This part is very unclear. Some people think Instagram will access your camera whenever they want and monitor what you see now. I hope it’s not true.

My guess: When you click manage, Instagram accesses your photo files on your smartphone. At the time, Instagram will monitor all of your photos on the files OR just selected photos you chose to upload on Instagram. I’m not sure. Instagram/Facebook needs to clarify this part.

Most of the data Instagram/Facebook collected is similar to Google Analytics. They will use the collected data for placing ads. (that’s what they said)

I think people get scared of cameras, microphones, and location part.

Instagram/Facebook stated that they have access to cameras and microphones while using the app. “While using the app” has a lot of meaning. Does it mean scroll down your Instagram feed? Does it mean when you open the camera to take photos?

What exactly “while using the app”?

Simple Ways to Protect Your Privacy

Here’s a list of privacy protection tips from downloaded apps including Instagram and Facebook.

#1. Log off while you are not using it.

I know, sometimes developer tools are being used like “running in the background,” so this is not a 100% safe way to protect our privacy. But, it’s a basic precaution.

#2. Turn off “access.”

You may not have realized it, but you have control of every app’s access authorizations.

Go to your smartphone’s “Settings.” Scroll down and tap “Privacy.” Tap Camera or Microphone or Location Services. From there, you can control access to the camera/microphone/location.

You have a choice like:

  • never allowed access
  • allowed access while using the app
  • allowed access always

#3 Physically block.

Hide your camera. I use camera vinyl covers. It’s like reusable stickers you can place on the camera, so the camera only sees a black screen. You can also get a plastic side cover. I just like the sticker one because it’s more convenient.

Credit: Amazon

#4 Read data policy or privacy policy once in a while.

“You didn’t know” could be scary things. Read privacy policy once in a while. You are the only one who cares about your privacy on the internet.

#5 Delete apps.

I saw a lot of people saying that they’ll delete Instagram or Facebook app from their phone. But I think it’s not easy for most people.

Update: Instagram’s “These terms will be effective on December 20, 2020” page is deleted. (as of December 22) They might change the policy or add more information…

Credit: Instagram

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