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Last month, Instagram quietly rolled out its new terms of service. You probably haven’t heard much about it, given the state of our country, which is, most likely, Instagram’s dream scenario due to the invasiveness of this update. Reading terms of service agreements can be a real drag, so let’s get to exactly what you need to know to protect your privacy moving forward.
You might be thinking – wait, isn’t she in the social media business? Isn’t this a conflict of interest? Not at all, as these new terms of service affect the privacy of businesses managing your social media account and individuals who use social media for leisure. And, if your current marketing agency isn’t speaking up and talking to you about this, it might be time to find someone else (ahem, this girl right here!).
Ok, let’s get into the concerning parts first.
Let’s be honest; we’ve all had a gnawing paranoia that this was happening long before Instagram recently admitted to it. Instagram, for the obscene purpose of suggesting that you wear a mask and use other photo filters, is claiming access to your camera. That means the app can view and record any information from your device. Chilling, right?
When you sign up for an Instagram account, a prompt pops up asking for access to your contact list. If you initially agreed, this gave them the ok to monitor ALL conversations on your device (and possibly others, but we will get into that later). But, wait for it, they justify this act to help you find other people you may know… Hmmm.
You may think that your recent transaction from an Amazon pop-up ad was just between you and your Amazon account but think again. Instagram is collecting every ounce of data down to your credit card information when you make a purchase through their platform.
And lastly, they admit to harvesting information from your devices nearby. Below is a snip-it of what information they collect from your desktop, laptop, TV, and other web-connected devices. Read this one carefully. Quite the surprise, huh?
Because I realize I’m no cybersecurity expert (well, I like to think I’m one in training, but…), I’ve partnered with Ronald Sweatland, the CEO of Orcannus Technologies, Inc, for the rest of this article. You can read more about his impressive background and his services HERE. Now, on to how to protect yourself if you choose to continue to use Instagram and/or Facebook.
As Ron explains, “If you delete your social media account, the apps are “supposed” to uninstall everything. However, if the app is of foreign origin, it may only uninstall the top layer. The metadata is still there for the platform to use. The only solution is to factory reset your devices to completely eliminate the app.” There are also a few other social media alternatives if you’d like to switch to something else.
For those of you who are fellow social media marketers, like me, or if you want to remain connected with friends/family for personal use, there are a few safeguards you can take to protect yourself.
As Ron explains, “One thing is certain, information sells on the dark web. We’ve grown into a click-through society that seeks immediate gratification without understanding the repercussions. This mentality gives apps root access to your device. Most people won’t take the time to read through terms and service agreements to stay on top of their privacy rights. These big tech apps know that and work it to their benefit.”
After asking him about the recent Instagram updates, here are a few precautions that he recommended to address these top four concerns.
CAMERA ACCESS: Revoke this access in your phone or tablet settings. For added protection, you can purchase cell phone cases or slidable webcam blockers to install over all the cameras on your devices. “Anything that obstructs your camera’s view is better than nothing,” states Ron.
MICROPHONE ACCESS: Again, this can be controlled in the settings section of your phone or tablet under the respective app. Ron explains a scenario where apps have the capability to pick up a huge spectrum of sound. For example, if you’ve ever shopped at Kohl’s, you’ve probably noticed their electronic price tags. This device puts out a high-frequency signal to your phone that listens and gathers information. It’s called NFC (Near Field Communication), and most modern phones have it. It’s actually the technology that makes it possible to pay for items through your phone, which is even more concerning as it can access your payment information. It can also transmit data to other apps to later serve up ads to you. This signal can tap into your phone from up to 6 feet away. Crazy, huh?
ACCESS TO ADDRESS BOOK, CALL LOG, AND TEXT HISTORY: If you’ve never given Instagram access to your contacts list, then technically, they shouldn’t be able to access it, your call history, or your text messages. Ron suggests that if you have given them access, the easiest thing to do is to uninstall the app, clear the cache/data, reinstall it, and click “no” when asked for access to your contacts. These simple steps should fix that issue.
ACCESS TO PURCHASE HISTORY: This is fairly simple, and to be honest, most people know how this works as it pertains to social media affiliate content and/or ad marketing. “If you’re worried about your financial data being exposed, don’t purchase anything through social media,” says Ron. If you find something you like from an ad that was served up to you, take note of the item, close out of the app, and go directly to the retailer’s site to purchase. As long as you switch over to the new site, there should be no way of tracking you. Easy peasy!
ACCESS TO SEARCH HISTORY & DEVICES: Ron suggests double-checking your apps to ensure it doesn’t have access to your phone or other devices. Bots are always looking for information through social networks and passing data between devices. It’s an unsettling thought, but entities are always listening, competing for your money, and providing information to you through different devices. A new movie was just released on this very matter called, The Social Delma. It sheds some light on how these bots gather your information. Enjoy!
We hope we’ve been able to shed some light on these new emerging trends that are an increasing threat to privacy and the future of social media as a whole – whether it’s professionally or personally. We hope you take this information and decide for yourself what’s best for your business and family.
If you’re interested in consulting with Ron and his team about cybersecurity for business or pleasure, feel free to give him a call at 770-712-6668 or visit his website at Orcannus.com or follow him on Facebook to learn more. Mention our name for a FREE Complimentary Baseline Profile Check!
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Anna is an author and writer who is passionate about the art of storytelling. She enjoys connecting with small businesses in her community while taking their marketing efforts to the next level of growth.