Instagram Debunks Viral Hoax Regarding Rule Change in Relation to Photo Re-Use

Instagram Debunks Viral Hoax Regarding Rule Change in Relation to Photo Re-Use

Really, it feels like this should go without saying by now – but to clarify, this:

Instagram hoax message

Is not true. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri has specifically explained that there is no truth to this, which, you would think that most people would infer based on the poor grammar and formatting of the note itself. 

But as you can see here, people have shared this update, and are sharing it, including high-profile users with verified profiles, adding further weight to the rumor.

Indeed, according to The Verge, a bunch of celebrities, including Usher, Judd Apatow, and Julia Roberts, have all posted the note to their Instagram feeds, as have some US government officials. Variations of this message have been circulating for years, but this latest resurgence seems to have gained an unusual amount of momentum on the back of these high-profile re-shares. 

But to clarify, it makes no sense. Here’s why:

While you do grant Instagram some usage rights of your content within the platform’s Terms of Use, there is also this specific note within its qualifiers:

Instagram terms example

So the claim that Instagram might suddenly change its mind and make ‘everything you’ve ever posted’ public, including private messages, is not only not happening, it’s not legal without a significant change to the platform’s terms – which you, as a user, would have to explicitly agree to.

And even if Instagram were to, somehow, implement new rules without your knowledge, posting an update on Instagram itself serves no legal purpose. It’s not a signed declaration, it’s not a legally binding contract of any kind. It’s just a bunch of words that sound kind of like they might, possibly, mean something. 

In addition, and as further underlined by The Verge, the legal sources referred to in this post – the Rome Statute and the UCC – relate, respectively, to global laws determined by the International Criminal Court governing war crimes and genocide, and the US Uniform Commercial Code. Neither is applicable to any aspect of Instagram usage.

It’s not the first time that Instagram, and parent company Facebook, have felt the need to make official statements on these random hoax posts.

Back in 2016, Facebook debunked a different variation of this exact same hoax (the bold ‘Instagram’ in the top example is pasted over ‘Facebook’ from the original message), while earlier this year, Instagram issued a statement which dismissed the rumor that it was deliberately limiting post reach. Facebook also issued a statement on its own post reach myth shortly after, following the proliferation of a hoax update which prompted users to comment on posts in order to train Facebook’s ‘new algorithm’.

Facebook post reach myth

These posts are not true, and they don’t work the way that they imply. Some are used by scammers to spread certain messaging, or identify potentially vulnerable targets for future targeting. Others are used to inflate Page like numbers and engagement, with some of those Pages then sold off to the highest bidder.

Basically, if you see a post claiming that you need to re-post something for legal purposes, that’s not true, and not how the process works. If it seems a little fishy, or the wording and presentation looks not quite right, it’s probably a lie. 

‘But there’s no harm in just sharing it’, I’ve heard people say. I mean, sure, if you don’t mind potentially being tagged as a future scam target because it lets the scammers know that you’re gullible. Sure. No harm at all. 

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