You’ll find out what kinds of personal data Instagram collects, what happens to this information later, and how you can limit the app’s omnipresent tracking. Enjoy!
Let’s go over some tricky parts in detail.
Speaking of Instagram privacy, the service says it doesn’t collect or read your DMs.
But, unlike WhatsApp, the direct messages on Instagram aren’t end-to-end encrypted. The service keeps them on its servers. They are, of course, protected with encryption, but Instagram can still theoretically access them.
However, the service does collect metadata about your messages, like who you text, when, and how often.
🗣 Everything you do on the platform is tracked
You generate a lot of valuable data simply by using Instagram.
Think of all the people you communicate with, accounts you follow, posts you like, and stories you watch. The app gathers all your interactions and compiles a digital profile with your genuine interests, likes, and dislikes.
📸 In-app camera data
Love Instagram filters? What about nice masks? We love them too, but there’s a catch.
Everything you record via the in-app camera goes to Instagram servers. The app says its systems automatically process this data to give you suggestions about new masks and filters.
🌎 Your location — always collected
Instagram loves to know where you are. The app collects information about your current location, where you live, the places you like to go to, and the businesses and people you’re near.
Even if you opt out of its GPS features, the app will still record your location by looking at your IP address, which points to your general location.
📲 Device & network data
Gee, does Instagram want to know a lot about your phone.
The app collects its hardware model, OS, phone number, app version, battery level, available space, browser type, device IDs, Bluetooth signals, language, and time zone.
Instagram also collects the name of your mobile operator, IP address, connection speed, signal strength, and info about nearby Wi-Fis.
😳 Data from partners
Instagram collects information about you even when you’re not on the platform.
The app knows what you do on other web pages via the Meta pixel, a tracker present on 40% of the web’s top 10k sites.
Here’s what Instagram says it does with your data.
⚙️ Instagram uses it to improve their service
Instagram developers automatically receive bug and performance reports to catch possible errors. The app has a huge audience, and it can’t afford to be down.
😬 Instagram shares it with Meta companies
An example of such sharing could be Facebook suggesting you groups and profiles based on your Instagram activity.
📈 Instagram collects data for ad targeting
Instagram records all your actions and later allows advertisers to target you based on what it knows about you.
📊 Instagram may give your data to 3rd parties
Apart from allowing access to your data to advertisers, Instagram can provide it to third parties.
This includes the partners who use their analytics services, vendors and service providers, researchers, academics, and law enforcement.
Instagram Privacy settings: Can you restrict what data is collected?
Here are some basic recommendations on how to limit the collected data and ensure Instagram privacy.
- Disable “Connect Contacts”
- Give the app as few permissions as possible
- Uncheck “Similar Account Suggestions”
- Turn off some personalized ads
- Take photos with your camera and then upload them to Instagram.
Let’s sum it up
Is Instagram privacy safe?
As Instagram is a part of Meta, it shares your data with other companies in its family. How much and what exactly is shared isn’t very clear. Instagram also collects massive amounts of personal data to feed its advertising machine.
We wouldn’t recommend using Instagram for communicating with your loved ones. Direct Messages lack end-to-end encryption and are stored on Instagram servers. You can limit what the service collects about you by using ClearVPN — it’ll hide your IP address, thus masking your location.
Privacy is The New Black
Enjoyed this review? There’s more. Stay on top of what’s happening in the world of digital privacy, cybersecurity, and VPN with ClearVPN Blog.
Sources & methods
Instagram Data Policy
Meta Data Policy
Instagram Privacy by The Verge
All the data WhatsApp and Instagram send to Facebook by Wired