mean for you
What is Instagram?
“Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share
your life with friends through a series of
pictures” (Instagram, 2016b)
Further to this, Instagram allows you to share
videos, and message with other users.
Instagram currently has over 500 million active
users, who upload a collective 95 million
photos or videos a day, and provide 4.2 billion
likes daily (Instagram, 2016e).
There are a number of obvious and
generic Terms, such as:
- You must be 13+ years old
- No bad behaviour (bullying, abusing, harassing)
- No interfering or disrupting the service
And there are a number of Terms
which are not so obvious, and
extremely important to you.
What can’t you post?
You are agreeing not to post “violent, nude, discriminatory, unlawful,
infringing, hateful” content.
This might sound straight forward, but it isn’t.
When it comes to nudity, the Community Guidelines state that breastfeeding
and nudity in artwork such as paintings and sculptures is allowed (Instagram,
Therefore, you have to be careful with any risqué content you are
considering to post, and it is best to err on the side of caution to stay out of
trouble. (Instagram, 2013b).
Who owns your photos?
You do. But…
You give Instagram license rights, the terms of which are very broad.
Basically, any content you post, Instagram can use for free, wherever and
whenever they want, and can also give a third party those same rights
This is extremely important to keep in mind with all content you post, for
example, photos or videos of your family or content you wish to make
money from as a professional.
Copyright – using others’ photos
You cannot post others’ content as you wish, you have to follow copyright
post any copyrighted content, and “agree to pay all royalties, fees, and any
other monies owed” for the any of the content that you use.
As this is the case, it is best to just post images and videos that you have
taken yourself, rather than posting random content you find on the web.
When it comes to liability, Instagram is quite thorough in removing all legal
responsibility from itself.
A list of things Instagram states it is not liable for includes the actions of
other users, any third party services, loss of content, and “Any loss or
damages of any kind” to you, including economic, death or personal injury.
So you are agreeing that you cannot blame them for anything that happens
on, or because of, the service. This means you are responsible for yourself,
and must be careful in your use of Instagram.
account. But, Instagram also holds the right to “modify or terminate
the Service or your access to the Service for any reason, without notice,
at any time”.
So don’t take your access to the service for granted, and keep backups
of all your content to avoid loss.
Ultimately common sense will keep
you out of trouble, but just
remember if you’re unsure about
anything, check the Terms of Service.
you of the information they collect,
and what they intend to do with it.
This is important as Instagram is a
free service, and “If you are not
paying for [a service], you're not the
customer; you're the product being
The amount of information collected
may surprise you.
(Keep an eye out for the vague terms they use too)
Information they collect
Firstly, Instagram collects the information you provide directly to them,
which includes your username, email, phone number, password, profile
information, the content you upload, and the comments you make.
They also use third-party analytics tools that collects information such as the
web pages that you visit, any add-ons you use, and “other information”.
Instagram states that they, or third parties such as advertisers or “other
Rights Clearinghouse, 2016), or other such technologies to collect
Information they collect
If you’re using a smartphone or tablet, Instagram may store files on your
device which identify your device, and allows them to access information
about how you browse and use the Service.
Instagram records almost every interaction you have with the service, by
logging your IP address, your clicks, the pages you viewed, how you entered
and exited the service, your browser type “and other such information”.
From all of this, you can assume that everything you give, and everything you
do, is being recorded and stored by Instagram.
Instagram uses this information in-
house for a number of reasons,
including helping them improving
the service, monitoring how the
service is used, and providing
content that is personalised just for
Who do they share it with?
But Instagram isn’t the only one who uses this information.
They state that they share all of this information with other companies
within the Facebook group, and “third-party organizations that help us
provide the Service to you”.
They also state that they share “certain information such as cookie data”
with advertising partners. This is done because this data allows “for more
focused and therefore more lucrative advertising” (Barbaro & Zeller, 2006).
Meaning more and more companies have a hold of your information.
Who do they share it with?
When it comes to legal requests, Instagram states that they may share this
information if they believe the law requires them to do so.
This is important, as last year Facebook reported that “there has been an
increase in government requests for… user data throughout the world”
With legal requests of social media data and content on the rise, it is
important that you remember “Anything you post on a social media site may
be used as evidence against you” (Lawstuff, 2013), even in private accounts,
as court orders can be obtained to access that data (Bosick, 2015).
What if you leave Instagram?
If you decide to leave Instagram, or are terminated by the Service,
Instagram and third-parties that it has already shared your information
with can retain this information, meaning your information is still being
If Instagram closes down or is bought by another company, all of the
information collected may be sold or transferred, meaning you have no
guarantee that Instagram will be the only organisation that holds all of
this information about you.
All of this is important for you to
keep in mind, especially when
deciding if you want to use the
service, and also when you are using
it as it should shape how you use it.
Barbaro, M., & Zeller, T. (2006, August 9th). A Face Is Exposed for AOL Searcher No. 4417749. The New York Times.
blue_beetle. (2010, August 26). RE: User-driven discontent [Web log comment]. Retrieved from
Bosick, M. (2015). Is Social Media Evidence Admissible in Court? Retrieved from https://smiaware.com/legal/is-social-media-
Bowan, N. (2015, January 28). Who owns your Instagram content? [Web log post].
Instagram. (2016a). Community Guidelines. Retrieved from https://help.instagram.com/477434105621119/
Instagram. (2016b). FAQ. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/about/faq/
Instagram. (2016c). Feed [Image]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram-brand.com/
Instagram. (2016d). Glyph [Image]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram-brand.com/
Instagram. (2016e). Press News. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/press/?hl=en
Lawstuff. (2013). Self-Incrimination & Social Media. Retrieved from http://www.lawstuff.org.au/wa_law/topics/article21
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. (2016). Online Privacy: Using The Internet Safely. Retrieved from
Savvides, V. (2015). Government Requests For Social Media Data Jump. Retrieved from http://theticker.org/government-
Smithers, R. (2011, May 11). Terms and conditions: not reading the small print can mean big problems. The Guardian.
Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com