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Privacy Evaluation for Instagram

Last updated August 9, 2021

Overview

Instagram is a platform for users to post content, including photos, videos, comments, and other information. Instagram provides social interactions between users who can post comments, likes, or other messages on a user's content. These interactions include direct messages between individual users, and "disappearing" messages. Instagram's terms state they collect a broad range of personal information from people using the site, and about friends and contacts of people using Instagram. Instagram's terms state they use commercially reasonable safeguards to help secure a user's information collected through the service. In addition, the terms state that if Instagram learns they have collected personal information from a child under the age of 13 without parental consent, they will delete that information as quickly as possible. However, it is unclear how Instagram would learn if a user is under 13 years of age without an age-gate or collection of other birth-date information, or how a parent or guardian could even provide consent.

Instagram can be accessed through its website, and is available for download at the iOS App Store, the Google Play Store, and Amazon Appstore. The Privacy Policy and Terms of Use accessed for this evaluation can be found on Instagram’s website, iOS App Store, the Google Play Store, and Amazon Appstore. Additionally, other policies used for this evaluation include: Platform Polict. This evaluation only considers policies that have been made publicly available prior to an individual using the application or service.

Safety

Instagram's terms state it is a platform for users to post content, including photos, comments and other materials to the service and to share user content publicly. This means that other users may search, see, use, or share any user content that is posted and made publicly available through the service. In addition, Instagram's terms state they provide social interactions between users who can post comments, likes or other messages on a user's content. These interactions include direct messages between individual users, and "disappearing" messages.

Privacy

Instagram's terms state they collect a broad range of personal information from people using the site, and about friends and contacts of people using Instagram. Users of Instagram can choose to allow Instagram access to their contacts and their Facebook friends. Instagram also provides a feature that allows people to be "found" by other users on Instagram. Instagram's terms state that users can post content such as photos, comments, and other information to the service. Users can also add information to their user content, including a specific geo-location, or an open comment. Instagram's terms state they will not rent or sell a user’s information without consent, but may share non-personal information with third-party organizations, service providers, affiliates, and advertising partners that help Instagram provide the service.

Instagram's terms state that they may combine a user’s information with other information and share de-identified and aggregated information with third-parties. Instagram may display advertisements and promotions on the service. In addition, Instagram's terms describe that a person's distinct mobile device identifier and other device-specific information may be collected and stored. This distinct identifier could be used by Instagram or third party affiliates to track and target content and advertising to users.

Security

Instagram's terms state they use commercially reasonable safeguards to help secure a user's information collected through the service. The terms also state that Instagram takes reasonable steps to verify a user's identity before granting them access to an account. However, the policies do not clearly indicate whether or not a user's data is encrypted while in transit or at rest. Instagram's terms also do not disclose how they would notify users in the event of a data breach.

Compliance

Instagram's terms state the application is not intended for, or directed to children under the age of 13, but does not state who the intended audience for its service should be. In addition, Instagram's terms state they do not knowingly collect or solicit any information from anyone under the age of 13. However, the service would likely appeal to children under 13 years of age, which would take into account several factors that include the subject matter, visual content, and activities provided. The terms also state that if Instagram learns they have collected personal information from a child under the age of 13 without parental consent, they will delete that information as quickly as possible. However, it is unclear how Instagram would learn if a user is under 13 years of age without an age-gate or collection of other birth-date information, or how a parent or guardian could even provide consent. Lastly, if Instagram is used within an educational context information stored in the app could be considered an education record under FERPA. Any educator using Instagram in an educational context should be aware of their obligations under FERPA, and of their school or district's policies around parental consent and educational records.

Data Collection
SCORE: 60%

What data does it collect?

  • Personally identifiable information (PII) is collected.
  • The categories of collected personally identifiable information are indicated.
  • Collection or use of data is not limited to product requirements.
  • Geolocation data are collected.
  • Biometric or health data are collected.
  • Interactions, behaviors, or usage analytics data are collected.
  • Sensitive data are collected.
  • Data is automatically collected.
  • Opt-in consent is requested from users at the time personal information is collected.
  • Personal information of users is collected by a third party.
Data Sharing
SCORE: 80%

What data does it share?

  • Collected information is shared with third parties.
  • Unclear whether the categories of information shared with third parties are indicated.
  • The purpose for sharing a user's personal information with third parties is indicated.
  • The categories of third parties that receive data are indicated.
  • Data are shared for analytics.
  • Data are shared for research and/or product improvement.
  • Third-party services are used to support the product.
  • The roles of third-party service providers are indicated.
  • Third-party login is supported.
  • Contractual limits are placed on third-party data use.
Data Security
SCORE: 30%

How does it secure data?

  • A user's identity is not verified with additional personal information.
  • Account creation is required.
  • Unclear whether managed accounts are available.
  • Unclear whether multi-factor account protection is available.
  • Unclear whether third-parties with access to information are required to provide the same security protections as the company.
  • Reasonable security practices are used to protect data.
  • Unclear whether this product limits employee or physical access to user information.
  • Unclear whether this product encrypts all data in transit.
  • Unclear whether all data are stored in an encrypted format.
  • Unclear whether this product provides notice in the event of a data breach.
Data Rights
SCORE: 85%

What rights do I have to the data?

  • Users can create or upload content.
  • Users retain ownership of their data.
  • Processes to access or review user data are available.
  • Processes to modify data are available for authorized users.
  • A data-retention policy is available.
  • Processes for authorized users to delete data are available.
  • A user's data are deleted upon account cancellation or termination.
  • Data are deleted when no longer necessary.
  • Unclear whether methods are available to restrict who has access to data.
  • Processes to download user data are available.
Data Sold
SCORE: 30%

Is the data sold?

  • Personal information is not sold or rented to third parties.
  • Unclear whether users can opt out from the disclosure or sale of their data to a third party.
  • User information can be transferred to a third party in the event of a merge, acquisition, or bankruptcy.
  • Unclear whether users are notified if their information is transferred to a third party.
  • Unclear whether user information can be deleted prior to its transfer to a third party.
  • Unclear whether third-party transfers are contractually required to use the same privacy practices.
  • User information that is shared is shared in an anonymous or de-identified format.
  • Unclear whether the company describes their de-identification process of user information.
  • Data are shared for research and/or product improvement.
  • Unclear whether contractual limits prohibit third parties from reidentifying or de-identified information.
Data Safety
SCORE: 80%

How safe is this product?

  • Users can interact with trusted users.
  • Users can interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
  • Profile information must be shared for social interactions.
  • Personal information can be displayed publicly.
  • Users can control how their data are displayed to others.
  • User-created content is reviewed, screened, or monitored by the company.
  • User-created content is not filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.
  • Social interactions between users are moderated.
  • Social interactions of users are logged.
  • Users can report abuse or cyberbullying.
Ads & Tracking
SCORE: 35%

Are there advertisements or tracking?

  • Personal information is shared for third-party marketing.
  • Unclear whether this product displays traditional or contextual advertisements.
  • Personalised advertising is displayed.
  • Data are collected by third-parties for their own purposes.
  • User's information is used to track and target advertisements on other third-party websites or services.
  • Data profiles are created and used for personalised advertisements.
  • The company can send marketing messages.
  • The company does provide promotional sweepstakes, contests, or surveys.
  • Unclear whether this product provides users the ability to opt-out of contextual, or personalised advertising.
  • Unclear whether users can opt out or unsubscribe from marketing communications.
Parental Consent
SCORE: 20%

Can I provide parental consent?

  • Not intended for children under 13.
  • Unclear whether this product collects personal information from children under 13 years of age.
  • Intended for parents or guardians.
  • Unclear whether company has actual knowledge that personal information from users under 13 years of age is collected.
  • The company does not provide a section, heading, or separate policy for children in their policies.
  • Unclear whether parental consent is required before personal information is collected or disclosed.
  • Unclear whether this product limits parental consent with respect to third parties.
  • Unclear whether this product allows parents to withdraw consent for the further collection of their child's information.
  • Unclear whether this product deletes children's personal information if collected without parental consent.
  • Unclear whether this product provides parental consent notice and method for submission.
School Purpose
SCORE: 31%

Is the product intended for school?

  • Intended for students.
  • Personal information or education records are collected from preK-12 students.
  • Intended for teachers.
  • Unclear whether this product is primarily used by, designed for, and marketed toward students in grades preK–12.
  • Processes to enter education records into the product are not described.
  • Unclear whether additional rights or protections may be provided with an additional school contract.
  • Unclear whether the company is designated as a school official.
  • Unclear whether this product transfers parental consent obligations to the school or district.
Individual Control
SCORE: 25%

Can I control the use of my data?

  • Users can control the use of their information through privacy settings.
  • Unclear whether use of information is limited to the purpose for which it was collected.
  • The context or purpose for which data are collected is indicated.
  • Company may combine data with additional data from third-party sources.
  • Unclear whether this product treats combined information as personally identifiable information (PII).
  • Unclear whether notice is provided if the context in which data are collected changes.
  • Unclear whether consent is obtained if the practices in which data are collected change.
  • Unclear whether a grievance or remedy mechanism is available for users to file a complaint.
  • Unclear whether users can request to know what personal information has been shared with third parties.
  • Unclear whether notice is provided in the event the company receives a government or legal request for a user's information.

Common Sense Standard Privacy Report (SPR)

The standard privacy report (SPR) displays all the privacy practices from a product's policies in a single, easy-to-read outline. The report shows a green check mark for better privacy practices and an orange alert for risky or unclear practices. This alert indicates that more time should be focused on these particular details prior to use.

About Privacy Evaluations

The privacy evaluations have been designed with the help and support of a consortium of schools and districts across the United States. These evaluations are designed to help educators make informed decisions about the potential privacy implications of educational technology used to support teaching and learning.

Our core evaluation criteria will always be freely available. People are encouraged to read the questions we use and our information security primer. Vendors are encouraged to use our questions and the information security primer to self-evaluate. You can also learn more about our evaluation process. Please be in touch with any questions or feedback.