Fineprint: Instagram

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has become a key social platform that allows people to share personal moments with their followers — from pictures of food, travels, and anything else they want. But what does Instagram share about you?

When you download Instagram on your phone, it takes less than a minute to sign up. Everyone knows the drill: email, name, age, gender, blindly scroll through the terms and services, check that little box and voilà! You have an Instagram account!

Although we’re always told to read into the fine print, we tend to ignore it. Most people don’t know that little box can impact your life.

Here at Folio, we did you the favour and scouted out some important things you should be aware of when you agree to those user guidelines:

1. Instagram will share your information with Facebook (the folks who own them) and other companies, including advertisers.

As it’s well-known at this point, your information is online and companies will pay for it. Instagram is no different from Facebook, Google, Twitter, and all the other big players online. Advertisers want your information to share it for their profit.

Instagram mainly shares your lit selfies with Facebook, the parent company that bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012.

2. Ads are on Instagram but you might not be able to tell. The company has the option not to tell users whether something is an advertisement or not.

In 2013, Instagram launched an advertising platform for companies to take advantage of. Sometimes, a post comes up and a “sponsored” link will show in the top right corner. These are the ads users are aware of, but the site can still indirectly advertise.

3. Instagram has some control over your account. This one is pretty simple: if you post any graphic or sexual content, Instagram is able to take down the material, along with your account.  

4. They cannot sell your photos for direct advertising. When Instagram first announced to change their terms of service, they scared users off by saying that they could sell your photos to advertisers – they then revised after protest.

According to the Verge, advertisers can pay Instagram to use your photos but in a way that makes it clear that it’s your photo rather than an advertisement.

For example, a restaurant can use your photo to say, “The best Instagram photos of our new menu items,” but they can’t directly use your photo as an ad or modify it in any way.


If you’re not cool with any of this, there’s not much you can do other than deleting your account or just not signing up.

But come on, we all know you want to show all your friends that you finally ate at that burger place on Queen Street West. These are just the times.

Featured image by Ankit Singh