Instagram photo usage hoax goes viral

Huge ‘your mum on Facebook’ energy

It feels like chain mail messages died with the first edition of the Nokia 3310, when panicked 12-year-olds were frantically forwarding ‘send this now or your family will die’ texts to everyone in their contacts. As it turns out though, gullibility is still alive and kicking, it’s just moved over to Instagram.

The social media platform has had to respond after a hoax image went viral, claiming Instagram can now use images against users in court. The post stated: “Don’t forget tomorrow starts the new Instagram rule where they can use your photos. Everything you’ve ever posted becomes public from today, even messages that have been deleted.”

Despite being written in broken English, the image was circulated widely across the platform, telling users: “It costs nothing for a simple copy and paste, better safe than sorry.” The post goes on to claim the story had been covered by Channel 13 News (a US station), and that by sharing the post you revoke Instagram’s permission to use your content. 

The platform’s brand communications manager has now refuted the hoax, stating: “There’s no truth to this post.” Although the specific claims in the post are made up, Instagram does have broad licence rights over users’ images, meaning the app can use your photos for free, for any reason. These rights were brought into question back in 2015 when artist Richard Prince profited off other people’s Instagram posts.

With ownership of data currently a hot topic – photo editing app FaceApp recently came under fire for its troubling privacy policy – it’s unsurprising that users would rush to protect their content. Although going full ‘mum on Facebook’ and sharing any old ‘protection’ post you see is normally not (see: never) the solution. Time to flex Instagram’s new fake news tool?