Does Instagram Sell Your Data?
Does Instagram Sell Your Data?
Instagram has quickly grown into one of the world’s largest photo-sharing applications. It also doubles as a full-fledged social media platform that allows users to connect to each other, find businesses, fan pages, and a host of other profiles that they may be interested in.
Instagram was first created in 2010 and was purchased by Facebook in 2012 for a fine sum of $1 billion. Not too bad for a simple photo-sharing app, eh?
Wait till you hear how much money Facebook nets from Instagram every year though…
In 2019, Instagram netted just over $9 billion derived from ad revenue. This year, in 2021, Instagram is projected to make over $18.5 billion. That’s over double what they made two years ago and 18 times more than what they originally paid for the app. Crazy, right?
You can be darn sure that none of this would be possible if it wasn’t for the MASSIVE amounts of data that Facebook/Instagram collects on its users, though. The sheer amount of data they generate ensures that they can charge top-dollar for advertising slots and ensures that both Instagram and Facebook hold the spots for the most desirable online advertising platforms.
Ever wonder what else Instagram does with your data, though?
Well, you’re about to find out…
What Data Does Instagram Collect On Users
On average, Instagram users collectively post more than 70 million pieces of content per day. That translates to terabytes upon terabytes of data that Instagram collects on its users every single day.
The majority of this data consists of pictures and images, which take up the most space. However, Instagram also collects just about every other piece of data that they can on your account activity, profile, and general usage.
The thing is, they’re not the only platform collecting your data. Almost every major website or app does the same exact thing. This is why we’ve been so adamant about telling our readers why they need to use a VPN. It’s really the best (and the only) way to limit how much information is being collected from you.
Here’s everything that Instagram collects on its users.
- General Identification/Account Data: Whenever you create an account, Instagram requires users to input basic information, including a name, email address, and phone number. It also gives users the option to sign up using their Facebook account, in which case Instagram will receive all of your personal identification data saved to your Facebook account.
- Messages Sent and Received: Instagram records all of your messages that you send or receive via its direct messenger. Even though you might think that your messages are private, they are recorded and saved to a massive data server owned by Instagram.
- Facial Recognition Data: You know those cool little filters that you find on Instagram that you can use to turn your face into a dog or other animals? Well… each time you scan your face, Instagram stores it in its database and associates it with your account.
- GPS Location Data: Anytime you have your device’s GPS turned on, Instagram can see where you are. Also, if you tag a certain location in your posts, Instagram will be able to see places where you’ve previously visited.
- Content Shared By Users: As you’ve probably already surmised, Instagram also keeps every piece of content (images, videos, reels) shared by its users. “Deleting” a post from your page just prevents other users from seeing it. The main file is still stored within Instagram’s servers for them to do anything they wish with.
- Content That Users Are Tagged In: If other users tag you in content or comments, then Instagram takes note of it and uses this data to create a more accurate picture of your profile and the people/places that are linked to you.
- Device Data Linked To Accounts: If you’re like many people, you probably have several different devices where the login credentials to your Instagram are saved. Every single phone, tablet, and laptop you’ve ever used to log into your Instagram account with has been saved by Instagram, so they know exactly what devices you’re using.
- Your Contact Data: One of the stranger pieces of data that Instagram collects from users includes its users’ phone contact information. This means that Instagram can see all of the contacts in your phone, including their phone numbers and/or saved email addresses.
Does Instagram Sell Your Data?
Oh boy… you guys are in for a rough one here.
In short words; yes, they most certainly sell your data.
In long words; Instagram sells more of your data than any other social media platform on the planet! On average, Instagram sells 80% of all user data to third parties.
This means that your pictures, videos, location, name, interests, private messages, and even the contacts in your phone are being sold to advertisers, government agencies, law enforcement, and data brokers.
We bet you’re rethinking canceling your free NordVPN trial right about now…
What Else Does Instagram Use Your Data For?
So, we’ve established that Instagram sells a huge portion of your data to third parties; but what else are they using your data for?
Like Facebook (and most social media platforms), Instagram receives most of its revenue from selling ad slots. Almost anybody can advertise on Instagram, from users who want to promote their accounts to businesses, influencers, and major brand names. Even advertisers that don’t have an official Instagram page can pay to advertise on the platform!
Improving User Experience
The more “innocent” reason why Instagram collects your data is to improve your user experience. They check to see what type of features users are looking for, what’s causing their app to crash or act slowly, and why some users are complaining about their experience. Then, they use all of this data to create application updates designed to make Instagram more fun, easy, and interactive.
Tips To Keep Your Instagram Use More “Private”
The chances are, if you already have an Instagram account, that the platform has already collected and sold gigabytes (or even terabytes) worth of your data. So, there’s nothing you can do about what’s already been done…
However, you can choose to be more proactive about your Instagram use going forward!
Some of the best tips to keep your Instagram use more private, include:
- Use a secure VPN to mask your location, ISP, and the device you’re using.
- Don’t send direct messages that contain private, personal, or questionable information that you wouldn’t want the rest of the world to know about.
- Keep your device’s GPS functionality turned off while using the app.
- Don’t tag locations if you don’t want Instagram to know where you visited.
- Don’t link your Facebook account to your Instagram.
- Consider using an anonymous email or prepaid phone number to create your Instagram account.
- Don’t include revealing personal information in your Instagram bio.
Ultimately, Instagram is an awesome app in terms of what it can do. If you’re a business, you can advertise to millions of people. If you’re an everyday user, you can share your content and create a personal brand that can allow you to make an honest living as an influencer by showcasing your talent.
However, don’t forget that using any social media platform is an exchange. Just as you benefit from using the platform, Instagram is benefitting from your usage and data.
As long as you’re aware that your privacy is being sacrificed, and you’re okay with that… then, by all means, keep using the platform! If you’ve already had an account, then sadly, it’s too late to recuperate your data. That being said, you can be more private and anonymous going into the future by using some of the tips outlined in this post.