Net 303 Policy Primer: Instagram


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A policy primer for Instagram's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, created for Net 303 at Curtin University.

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Net 303 Policy Primer: Instagram

  1. 1. Instagram’s Terms of Use A Policy Primer for the terms and privacy policies applicable to Instagram users
  2. 2. Instagram is a highly mobile photo and video sharing application
  3. 3. Like with all photosharing services, you should be aware of the terms you agree to by using the service Particularly those which make Instagram’s terms of use different
  4. 4. Let’s start with some of the basic terms you agree to by using the service
  5. 5. Basic Terms
  6. 6. Instagram has an age restriction you have to be over the age of 13 to use the service However, no matter how old you are…
  7. 7. (Terms of Use, 2013)
  8. 8. In addition to not posting offensive material, you cannot harass, bully, threaten or abuse any user by directly targeting them
  9. 9. You also can’t interfere with any other users experience of the service, especially by preventing others from enjoying or using the service.
  10. 10. As with many services which provide content sharing facilities, you must not break the law through your use of Instagram
  11. 11. This means that your activity should be lawful in the location from which you are using the service… …as well as under California State law.
  12. 12. Finally, you are responsible for all content, information and activity related to your account, and Instagram requires as a specific term of use that:
  13. 13. (Terms of Use, 2013)
  14. 14. This means that you agree to ensure at all times that any information provided is about you and is correct, and that you do not attempt to impersonate or represent anybody else.
  15. 15. Your account must be for, and about, yourself.
  16. 16. Privacy
  17. 17. In addition to the terms regarding your use of the service, Instagram also has terms detailing how they may use and store your information.
  18. 18. Instagram collects all information you supply to them directly, as well as any information sent by your device, which includes:
  19. 19. (Privacy Policy, 2013)
  20. 20. This other information includes data such as • Cookies • Log file information • Device identifiers • Metadata
  21. 21. Instagram attempts to assure users that when it collects this information, it collects it alongside information from other users so that it cannot be used to identify any particular user.
  22. 22. However, Barbaro and Zeller (2006) note that the more information that is collected, the easier it becomes to identify you, your habits, interests, activities, routines, etc especially from the kind of information Instagram collects from your devices
  23. 23. Instagram does not state anywhere in its terms that it de-identifies any of the data it stores for its own use, and is specifically states as a part of their privacy policy, that:
  24. 24. (Privacy Policy, 2013)
  25. 25. Instagram does note that it may remove identifying data from information it collects but only in order to then share it with third-party and affiliate businesses.
  26. 26. However, this still may not be enough to prevent identification based on this data, as the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse notes (2008) that once combined with information from elsewhere even anonymised information can still identify you.
  27. 27. To make matters worse, upon deactivation of your account, Instagram can keep information or content
  28. 28. (Privacy Policy, 2013)
  29. 29. This effectively means that once you provide information to Instagram it’s mostly out of your control.
  30. 30. Termination of Access
  31. 31. As per standard procedure for Terms of Use agreements, if any breach of the terms is detected, Instagram may terminate your access.
  32. 32. Instagram notes that it does not bear any responsibility for any content posted by you or others throughout the service.
  33. 33. Instagram also notes that it does not have any standing requirement or obligation to review, screen or edit content before it is made available through the service
  34. 34. This effectively means that Instagram keeps some distance between itself and users when it comes to disputes regarding ownership and copyright breaches resulting from use of the service and that all responsibility for resolving these disputes rests with the affected users.
  35. 35. However, Instagram does note that: (Terms of Use, 2013)
  36. 36. Although in its section detailing the rights of users, Instagram explains that all content is owned by the user, and that posting the content merely grants a license for Instagram to use the content throughout its service…
  37. 37. …upon termination of your account, all user rights, including those regarding ownership cease to exist.
  38. 38. This means that whilst (Terms of Use, 2013)
  39. 39. Your content could still exist if it was used by Instagram throughout its service for means other than making it accessible on your account (as per its license to do so), or if other users have made it accessible through their accounts or elsewhere on the service.
  40. 40. This effectively means that whilst Instagram says that it does not own your content this really only lasts as long as your account does
  41. 41. So if your account is terminated either by Instagram or yourself your content may no longer be yours.
  42. 42. Although Instagram shares many things in common with other content sharing services, such as allowing users to retain ownership of content on their account, requiring that users act respectfully and not deliberately offend others and requiring that illegal content and activity is prohibited
  43. 43. Instagram does have some concerning terms and provisions which may restrict user ownership of content as well as expose users to potential breaches of privacy
  44. 44. So be aware of what you are signing up to when you sign up for an Instagram account.
  45. 45. References • Barbaro, M., & Zeller, T. (2006, August 9th). A Face Is Exposed for AOL Searcher No. 4417749. New York Times. Available: • Instagram. (2013). Privacy Policy. Available: • Instagram. (2013). Terms of Use. Available: • Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (2008). Privacy and the Internet: Travelling in Cyberspace Safely. Available: