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Privacy Evaluation for Instagram

Last updated July 15, 2020

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 secure a user's information collected through the Service. 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: Community Guidelines. 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: 45%

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.
  • Behavioral data are collected.
  • Sensitive data are collected.
  • Non-personally identifiable information is collected.
  • Unclear whether this product treats combined information as personally identifiable information (PII).
  • Unclear whether this product collects personal information online from children under 13 years of age.
Data Sharing
SCORE: 70%

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.
  • Unclear whether use of information is limited to the purpose for which it was collected.
  • Data are shared for analytics.
  • Data are shared for research and/or product improvement.
  • Data are shared with third-party service providers.
  • The roles of third-party service providers are indicated.
  • Social or federated 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 parental controls or managed accounts are available.
  • Unclear whether two-factor account protection is available.
  • Unclear whether third-party contractual security protections are required.
  • Industry best 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 this product encrypts all data at rest.
  • Unclear whether this product provides notice in the event of a data breach.
Data Rights
SCORE: 90%

What rights do I have to the data?

  • Opt-in consent is requested from users at the time personal information is collected.
  • Users can control their information through privacy settings.
  • Users can create or upload content.
  • Users retain ownership of their data.
  • Processes to access and review user data are available.
  • Processes to modify inaccurate data are available.
  • A data-retention policy is available.
  • Processes for the school, parents, or students to delete data are available.
  • Processes to delete user data are not available.
  • Processes to download user data are available.
Data Sold
SCORE: 30%

Is the data sold?

  • Data are 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.
  • 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 is shared in an anonymous or deidentified format.
  • Unclear whether the vendor describes their deidentification process of user information.
  • Data are shared for research and/or product improvement.
  • Unclear whether contractual limits prohibit third parties from reidentifying deidentified information.
Data Safety
SCORE: 80%

How safe is this product?

  • Users can interact with trusted users and/or students.
  • Users can interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
  • Profile information is shared for social interactions.
  • Personal information is displayed publicly.
  • Users can control how their data are displayed.
  • User-created content is reviewed, screened, or monitored by the vendor.
  • 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?

  • Data are shared for third-party advertising and/or marketing.
  • Unclear whether this product displays traditional or contextual advertisements.
  • Behavioral or targeted advertising is displayed.
  • Data are collected by third-party advertising or tracking services.
  • Data are used to track and target advertisements on other third-party websites or services.
  • Data profiles are created and used for data enhancement, and/or targeted advertisements.
  • The vendor can send marketing messages.
  • The vendor does provide promotional sweepstakes, contests, or surveys.
  • Unclear whether this product provides users the ability to opt-out of traditional, contextual, or behavioral advertising.
  • Unclear whether this product provides users the ability to opt out or unsubscribe from marketing communications.
Parental Consent
SCORE: 20%

Can I provide parental consent?

  • Not intended for children under 13.
  • Intended for parents or guardians.
  • Unclear whether vendor has actual knowledge that personal information from users under 13 years of age is collected.
  • Unclear whether children's privacy is applicable.
  • Unclear whether this product indicates COPPA parental consent exceptions.
  • Unclear whether this product requires parental consent.
  • 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: 25%

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.
  • Unclear whether the product creates education records.
  • Unclear whether this product provides notification of a contract or additional rights.
  • Unclear whether this product designates the vendor as a school official.
  • Unclear whether this product transfers parental consent obligations to the school or district.
  • Unclear whether the vendor indicates FERPA parental consent exceptions.
  • Unclear whether this product discloses directory 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.