The Instagram hoax celebs are falling for


No, Instagram isn’t about to steal your photos- but someone should tell the long list of celebs like Usher, Adriana Lima, and Julia Roberts, and even Rick Perry, (the man in charge of American Nuclear Weapons) that they are being gullible and fell for an Instagram hoax.

In what is essentially the Instagram version of forwarding a chain email (but in a screenshot version) falsely claiming the social media company was changing its privacy policy and would make public all users' posts, including deleted messages. It also suggested the company could somehow "use your photos."

The message also falsely claimed that any Instagram user who objected to the change could repost the message in order to stop the company. Not the case!

"With this statement, I give notice to Instagram it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents," the message read.

Variations of this hoax have gone viral over the years in connection with different social platforms. As far back as 2012, an almost identical message — complete with the same reference to a nonexistent "Channel 13 New sreport — went viral about Facebook, prompting the company to publicly debunk the "copyright meme."

Instagram’s policies grant it some basic uses of your photos and messages because it needs permission to display them to other users. As a clarification, the company’s terms of service includes a bolded line that reads: “We do not claim ownership of your content, but you grant us a license to use it.”

It also says you can end that license at any time “by deleting your content or account.” Instagram can also share data and content with law enforcement, and it does so in response to warrants, court orders, or when believed it is necessary to prevent a crime. This is true of all internet services. These companies comply with legal requests from law enforcement and turn over whatever information they have, including account details and posts.

Despite grammatical errors and inconsistent typography a number of celebrities also reposted the hoax to their millions of followers, helping to spread the misinformation even further. Julia Roberts, Debra Messing, Usher, and Julianne Moore were among the celebs who fell for it. The claims are fake and the assertions don’t make a lot of sense, but that hasn’t stopped it from being spread by some major names concerned about the implications.

The most surprising thing about celebs falling for this isn’t that they don’t know how Instagram works (who does!) but that for a group who produces popular creative works, they don’t have a basic grasp on how IP law works.

There is another interesting thing here—the way in which this hoax spread likely speaks to the fact that people worry about how much control they really have over their own data.

And for content creators…the virality of the hoax does reflect general public support for the notion that big tech companies shouldn’t be able to use one’s creations without securing affirmative permission to do so. In theory, that’s what copyright is supposed to do.

The unfortunate reality is that you don’t fully control anything you share online, so long as you’re using someone’s else’s service.