Privacy Concerns Revealed In an Instagram Hoax

Rob Lowe, an actor, reposted the hoax on his Instagram. 
Photo courtesy of: Instagram

Rob Lowe, an actor, reposted the hoax on his Instagram. Photo courtesy of: Instagram

Jasmine Castro, Section Editor

More and more people have become concerned with the amount of information they provide social media companies, as they feel their privacy is being violated.

This fear towards how much information social media companies have on their users was revealed with the recent hoax that went viral on Instagram. The hoax actually originated from Facebook in 2012. The picture shows a wall of text that warns users of a change in Instagram’s policy. The new policy would enable the company to use information gathered against the user in various ways. The picture goes on to say that by reposting the picture, it would revoke Instagram’s ability to use the information collected, as it notifies the company that they do not have their permission to disclose said information. The picture attempts to appear more legitimate, as it includes legal citations that look convincing at first glance.

The problem with the legal citation noted in the post is that no such law as UCC 1-308-11308 exists. The UCC in this made-up law stands for Uniform Commercial Code, which does not typically deal with copyright issues as the post has suggested. The last legal citation is about the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court. The ICC would not concern itself with the type of information gathered from Instagram users, as the ICC deals with international criminals.

The idea that by posting this picture would act as an opt-out to the policy changes of Instagram is illogical considering users have agreed to the terms and conditions of the website when signing up-any changes in their policy would require the same consent from users.

Various celebrities re-posted the hoax, such as Usher, Judd Apatow, and Julia Roberts. The most surprising public figure to participate was  the US secretary of energy, Rick Perry. Most would believe a government official could tell the post was not real with the obvious discrepancies in the wall of text. The picture spread more widely as a ripple effect occurred when these influential individuals posted the picture. Many users believed in their credibility and reposted and spread the hoax further, creating the spread of misinformation that occurred.

What users agree to when signing up for Instagram is to allow the information gathered from their profile to be provided to companies that post ads on their website. The fact that information is being collected at all disturbs many users and their concern over the information social media companies have on their users was shown with the reaction many users had towards this hoax.