Tag Archives: Instagram

Improve Your Privacy on Social Media: Top Mistakes to Avoid

Who isn’t on social media these days? 60% of the global population and 93% of all internet users use social media apps. You may have never imagined your grandma would get decorating ideas before you do on Pinterest, but it’s happened.

It’s given us unparalleled opportunities to stay connected but it’s also made maintaining our online privacy a bit complicated.

We grew up with cautionary tales of how famous people like Michael Jackson, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe were driven to the edge by the loss of their privacy. Of course, we never thought normal people would face the same challenges on a smaller scale.

Most people who are doing something enterprising or of public interest need to market themselves, whether they’re entrepreneurs, politicians, musicians, or authors. If you want to succeed, it’s part of the game. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep your private life private.

Here are key privacy mistakes that can be easy to make on social media. Do your best to avoid them and sleep soundly knowing you’ve done your part.

You reveal personally identifiable information

Many mistakenly believe that because they don’t have a high profile on social media, have low income, or have bad credit, identity theft isn’t something to be concerned about. It is!

Today’s bad guys are organized, savvy, and they’ve got incredible tech at their disposal. You might not think it’s a big deal to reveal your email address, your username, or another small piece of information that’s associated with your identity. Remember that criminals can potentially build databases to piece together information over time.

Generally, avoid posting documents issued to you by governments, institutions, or businesses online. Leaking small pieces of personal data such as account numbers, or even your mailing address can come back to haunt you one day and it’s commonly done. In fact, according to a study by Experian, Americans have posted an average of 3.4 pieces of sensitive information online.

You overshare about personal events

Oversharing can mean many things. It can mean getting into an emotionally-charged state and posting about one’s personal drama. It can mean talking poorly about your ex or your former employer and getting into detail about past experiences.

It’s a tougher issue than it might seem because we bond with others by sharing things about ourselves, including our vulnerabilities.

If you post regularly on social media you have to reflect and be honest with yourself. Determine which parts of your life you’re comfortable with being public knowledge and which parts you prefer to keep private. Once the cat’s out of the bag there’s no going back.

Some people are proficient at discovering dirt about people and then spreading gossip. That’s not something you have control of, but don’t make it easy for them by creating a record that can be repurposed as ammunition.

Remember that many are generally unsympathetic to the problems of others. Tell the few you most trust your personal news to get it off your chest and leave it at that.

You reveal your exact location

Geotagging is incredible from a technological perspective. People who are interested in the happenings in an area can tap on the location and see related posts. Thus, it adds to the discoverability of your content.

If overused, geotagging gives people a way to track your activities. More and more it’s being used with precision so that people know which neighbourhood you’re in, right down to the restaurant you’re dining at.

Use geotagging judiciously. You can flex some by letting your followers know you’re visiting New York City without naming the bagel shop.

You post photos of your children publicly

The average parent posts nearly 1,500 pictures of their child online before age five according to a study by Nominet.

Parents are proud of their kids. They’re a huge part of their world, and that’s wonderful. However, sometimes we have to remind ourselves that Instagram isn’t a family photo album.

Ever heard the term “sharenting?” It’s when parents publicize personal information about their child online. People wouldn’t imagine sharing detailed private information about their friends online, but “sharenting” is incredibly common. And it’s usually done without permission by the child.

Many parents don’t think about it, but a photo or video that is funny or cute might not be seen the same in the future. At best, it will be slightly embarrassing to your child. At worst, it could negatively impact their reputation later in life.

When we post content publicly, we create a record that can be accessed by people with bad intentions and by automated technologies. It opens your child up to risks such as facial recognition tracking, online security threats, and worse.

You accept friend requests from strangers

Bots and people who are pretending to be someone else (aka catfish) are incredibly common on social media.

Platforms like Facebook give you the opportunity to approve or deny friend requests. Not much good can come of adding someone you don’t recognize. Adding them could expose you and your friends to online security threats, scams, surveillance, and misleading information.

You share information about people without their permission

Social media tends to polarize people these days. One camp believes in the power of personal branding. Their careers depend on putting themselves out there online. The other camp is known to launch into rants about how social media is destroying the fabric of society.

There are a million and one reasons someone wouldn’t want you to post a group shot with them in it on social media. It’s best to never make assumptions. Let people know if you plan to post something about them online so they can opt out.

Posting photos or information about people could have ramifications for them you didn’t consider, whether it’s at their job or in their marriage. It might not strike you as fair or reasonable but you don’t want to be blamed for sparking a conflict.

You don’t use audience selection features

Want to share a story about your career journey but don’t want your ex-employer to see it? Some social media content falls into a gray area in terms of privacy decisions. Luckily, there’s a middle ground in-between public and private posts.

Apps like Facebook and Instagram allow you to create lists of people and deliver content to that audience only. Sometimes you can exclude people or a list of people from seeing a post or story as well.

For example, Instagram allows you to make a “Close Friends” list. And on Facebook, you can add people to your list of “Acquaintances.”

You don’t remove bots and fake accounts that follow you

On Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn housecleaning your list of connections is easy because both sides have to agree to connect out of the gate.

It’s trickier to manage your followers on apps like Instagram and TikTok when you have a public account. It’s an ongoing process.

Every now and again, check your follower list and remove suspicious accounts. With practice, you’ll see patterns and it’ll be easy to spot certain types of fake accounts and scammers. In many cases, it won’t be clear what their objective is. But if there are clues that it isn’t a real person, it’s best to remove them rather than ignore them.

You don’t manage your tagged photos

Social media apps don’t have many restrictions when it comes to who can tag you in photos. In fact, on apps like Instagram spammers will tag you just so you’ll look at their post. And no, the image never has anything to do with you.

When potential employers or potential dates start digging through your profile, tagged photos are the first things they look at.

There are bound to be photos you’re tagged in that don’t send the right message. Take the time to check it every now and again, and remove your tag from the not-so-flattering shots, or the photos that reveal personal information you’re not comfortable with sharing with everyone.

You take questionable online quizzes

Facebook quizzes were huge back in the early days of the platform. People installed apps just to find out which character they are in Friends.

Quizzes seem like a fun and harmless way to share your personality traits with your friends. The problem is that the people who complete them usually don’t know who’s gathering their data and for what purpose.

If you think about it, quizzes are the perfect way for shady developers to extract data from people such as their name, birthdate, and other personal information. It doesn’t seem like much of a threat until you consider it can be pieced together and used for nefarious purposes.

You don’t use privacy settings and features

Every major platform has privacy features, and they usually go way beyond the ability to make your account private.

From hiding Likes on your post to limiting commenting to people you follow, social media apps allow you to use a lot of nuance when it comes to privacy. Experiment so that you’re confident in deploying privacy features when they’re most needed.

One of the key areas to investigate is the permissions the app has to access the data on your phone. Check its level of access to your photos, videos, location data, your mic, etc.

Location, camera, and microphone permissions can be set to “All the time,” “Allow only while using the app,” “Ask every time,” or “Don’t allow” on Android. There are no right or wrong answers here except that it makes sense to have stricter privacy settings on features you rarely use or don’t use.

Blocking access can break functionality in the app. So, test it before deciding how to approach your permission settings.

Conclusion

Let’s be clear, social media has plenty of benefits. Your online privacy is important but so is connecting with other amazing humans.

The key is to remind yourself of these privacy pitfalls before you hit the post button. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and reveal too much.

I hope you leave this article with some takeaways that will make your online journey a bit smoother. Stay safe!

Instagram and Facebook Can Use Your Photos, and You Agreed to It

They say always read the fine print. And when it comes to apps, not many actually do.

When you signed up with Instagram or Facebook you had to agree to the terms of service. You probably didn’t read it. You likely don’t remember tapping ‘agree’, but there’s no going back on that now.

That hasn’t stopped people from trying to block either app’s access to their photos after the fact… with a chain-letter.

Chain-letter Hoax Still Going

Since 2012 users have been posting a chain-letter hoax with a fake deadline. The letter warns their followers that there’s a new rule that allows either Instagram or Facebook to use their photos. And to opt out of the rule, they’re encouraged to repost the letter of course.

From there it contains a legal passage that attempts to thwart the supposedly new policy from affecting the poster.

“I do not give Instagram or any entities associated with Instagram permission to use my pictures, information, messages or posts, both past and future,” it reads. “With this statement, I give notice to Instagram it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take action against me based on this profile and/or its contents.”

Nice try, but anyone posting this has given the app access to their GPS, location, camera and photos. Posting a chain-letter won’t revoke privileges that have already been granted.

In fact, the apps often need access to these features on your phone to function. So restricting access isn’t always worth it, even when you can.

Facebook has stated that they also collect info about your network, the device your using, and many other data points.

And to be clear, Instagram and Facebook can access much more than the photos you post to their platform. The company has access to your entire photo library!

How Facebook Uses Your Photos

Would Mark Zuckerberg and friends ever actually harvest your photos and use it on their app without your permission?

Actually, their ad platform does this frequently. However, before you get alarmed, it’s not nearly as bad as you might assume. Some functions show your photos to you exclusively, rather than your friends or the public.

They will use a photo you uploaded earlier to grab your attention and encourage you to run an ad.

Another way Facebook uses your photos is by showing you a memory you posted several years ago and encouraging you to repost it with an updated caption.

Blocking Instagram’s Access to Photos on Your Phone

So, is it possible to simply block apps like Instagram from getting to your photos via the settings in Android or iOS? Yes, you can block them from scraping data associated with your images.

On an Apple device launch ‘Settings,’ then tap on ‘Instagram.’ From there you tap ‘Photos,’ then select ‘Never.’

Consider Using a VPN with Instagram and Facebook

Those that still have privacy concerns may want to review their privacy settings within the app, and then considering using a VPN.

A VPN (virtual private server) acts like an encrypted tunnel between your device and the internet for improved privacy and security.

Using a VPN hides your location and other private data so apps and websites can’t collect as much information about you.

To learn more, read LetMeBy’s reviews of the top VPN providers.

Conclusion

Instagram and Facebook collect data about your photos and have access to everything you upload to the apps as well as your photo gallery by default.

Luckily there are measures you can take to limit their access to your data. You can do this with privacy settings in the app, system settings, or with a VPN. Be aware, simply posting a chain-letter regarding revoking access to your photos won’t do any good.

How to Unblock Instagram at School or Work

Social media allows us to accomplish diverse tasks: from video chats with friends to spreading the word about your company’s services.

Use of apps like Instagram may be productive and relevant to what you’re doing at school or work, however many people scroll through content to slack off.

So, many institutions have opted to ban social media apps entirely, and network administrators are able to follow through on this by blocking access to URLs like https://www.instagram.com/.

Situations can arise where you need to check Instagram to do your work, but the network won’t allow it. And this is when bending the rules on occasion may be reasonable.

Can Insta be Productive?

Content on Instagram varies a lot and it has evolved considerably from a place to take in beautiful photos or post photos of your road trip. In fact, education, business and self-improvement are very popular topics on the platform.

Instagram can be enriching or a waste of time depending on your habits. It’s important to be mindful of the accounts you follow. While a lot of the photos on Instagram will merely be a distraction at school or work, some of it provides succinct knowledge that could actually save you time.

If used correctly, it can increase your productivity. However, few people have the discipline to pull this off.

The app has a great feature that allows you to limit the time on spend on it daily. To use it, go to “Settings”, then tap on “Account.” Next, tap “Your Activity” and you’ll see reminder and notification settings.

Unblock Instagram

Use Phone Data

If you launch Instagram and can’t view your feed, try turning off Wi-Fi and enabling wireless data.

There’s a good chance this will work because Wi-Fi uses the network which has internet access rules applied by the admin, while mobile data works independently of the local network.

Get a VPN

If you don’t have mobile data or don’t want to use up your monthly bandwidth, you can also use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access Instagram.

A VPN service allows you to choose a new IP that is associated with the location of your choice. This provided IP allows you to bypass restrictions set by the network admin while still connecting to the network via Wi-Fi.

It’s the best solution for people that want to hide their identity, location, or unblock apps and websites. You need to be subscribed to VPN service, many of which are fast and affordable.

To get started, learn more about the best VPNs that are recommended here most.

Use Your PC with Tor

If you simply want to browse Instagram and don’t need to post, using your PC is an alternative that is often overlooked.

If the URL https://www.instagram.com/ is blocked on all devices, you may be able to download and install Tor. This is proxy software that allows you to use the IP of another user connected to the Tor network.

Once the software changes your IP, Instagram will be unblocked. It’s free but be warned that it’s not as safe or nearly as fast as a VPN.

Typically, Tor should be a last resort, only to be used temporarily then uninstalled. This approach will only work at small businesses that don’t restrict which software can be installed.

Wrapping It Up

Use these tips responsibly and enjoy your new-found access to Instagram!

As the app can be useful at both school and work, blocking access might not be the best policy. However, it’s best to be as respectful of the restrictions even if you’re forced to bypass them at times.