With all the controversy surrounding Facebook’s privacy breach last week, we here at VPN.com figured it was only prudent to make sure that all our readers have the most up to date information on how they can better control their own data imprint with the company across all its owned services.
Though Instagram does operate as its own entity, the photo sharing social media service is still wholly owned by Facebook, which means that ultimately any data that you share with Instagram does end up somewhere on Facebook’s radar when they really need it.
This in mind, here are a few tips on how to better control your privacy on Instagram, as well as how to either temporarily deactivate or delete your account entirely if you’re worried about any data the company collects falling into the wrong hands.
What Data Does Instagram Collect?
Compared to Facebook, the amount of data that Instagram collects on its users is relatively minimal, but still could be enough to scare off more privacy-conscious users.
Directly Provided Information: This data includes anything that you’ve intentionally handed over to Instagram, including surface details like your email address, phone number, real name or profile picture.
Find Your Friends: If you utilized the Find Your Friends service when you first signed up, this means Instagram was able to access the contact list stored in the phone you were using at the time to get you linked up with other friends who had already signed up for the service.
Analytics Information: This includes any websites you might visit on the device you use Instagram with, add-ons, and “other information”. The company says that this information is randomized with other users’ data so it can’t ever be traced back to an individual account.
Cookies: Instagram stores cookies on your local device in order to serve ads to its customers.
Device Identifiers: These are small bits of data which simply tell Instagram what device you’re using when you use the service, as well as which devices you use most often and for how long.
Metadata: Last up is metadata, which is defined as anything that is added on to the user’s own content including: a hashtag (e.g., to mark keywords when you post a photo), geotag (e.g., to mark your location to a photo), comments or other data.
How Does Instagram Use Your Data?
Here’s the full list of how Instagram manages your data, according to the company itself:
Help you efficiently access your information after you sign in
Remember information so you will not have to re-enter it during your visit or the next time you visit the Service;
Provide personalized content and information to you and others, which could include online ads or other forms of marketing
Provide, improve, test, and monitor the effectiveness of our Service
Develop and test new products and features
Monitor metrics such as total number of visitors, traffic, and demographic patterns
Diagnose or fix technology problems
Automatically update the Instagram application on your device
Instagram or other Users may run contests, special offers or other events or activities ("Events") on the Service. If you do not want to participate in an Event, do not use the particular Metadata (i.e. hashtag or geotag) associated with that Event.
Tips for Controlling Your Privacy on Instagram
Even though Instagram is owned by Facebook, the company’s privacy control options are significantly slimmer by comparison.
Still, there are a number of techniques the average user can put into practice to better protect themselves and their identity while they’re scrolling through their Feed.
Make Your Account Private
The first method of protecting your privacy on Instagram is to set your account to Private. This is a common tactic that millions of users on the service employ to guarantee that only people that they’ve personally approved are able to see their photos or posts.
To stop your profile from being publicly accessible to anyone except your followers, start by clicking the Edit My Profile button located in the top-right corner of your profile page:
Next, scroll down and look for the box labeled Private Account. Tick this off to take your profile off the publicly searchable results and prevent anyone except your followers from being able to see all past or future content posted to your page.
Disable Similar Account Suggestions
Another way to keep your profile on the downlow is to remove it from the Similar Account Suggestions roster. This is the feature that lets other users discover new accounts that are related to other users they follow.
To disable this feature simply look right under the same box we had you tick off in the last section, and do the same here:
Disable Authorized Apps
Lastly, we recommend disabling any apps that are authorized on your Instagram account, as these can access your data in ways that standard advertisers and third-party applications can’t.
To do this, go back to the Edit My Profile page and look for the tab on the left-hand side labeled Authorized Apps. Click this and look for any apps that appear on the page:
How to Temporarily Disable Your Instagram Account
If you’re tired of giving up your personal privacy in exchange for a few friends of your photos, but aren’t quite ready to completely erase yourself from the most popular photo sharing service on the planet, then temporarily disabling your Instagram account is a decent half-measure to take.
To temporarily disable your Instagram account, start by going to the Edit My Profile page, and in the Edit Profile tab you should see a small link in the bottom-right corner labeled Temporarily disable my account:
How to Permanently Delete Your Instagram Account
Finally, if you’re ready to take the plunge into the world of total digital privacy, then deleting your Instagram account is the only way to go.
To do this, start by following this link on a desktop or laptop, and make sure you do so in a browser where your Instagram account is already logged in.
From there, much like disabling your account you’ll be asked to enter a reason why you’re deleting your account, and will need to enter your password one more time. After that’s entered correctly the red button labeled Permanently delete my account will light up, and you only need to click this once to complete the process.
WARNING: Permanently deleting your Instagram account will render all your account data irreversibly unrecoverable, so make sure you’re totally sure you want to get rid of your profile and all your photos before you take this route. Instagram states that once an account has been deleted there is no option to get those photos back, so at the very least if there are any treasured memories stored on their servers we recommend saving them to a local hard drive before you wipe the account.