Instagram users went a little crazy yesterday, after a number of very high-profile accounts — everyone from Marc Jacobs to Adriana Lima to Carine Roitfeld — began posting the same screenshot of text claiming to outline imminent changes to Instagram’s terms of service. “Don’t forget tomorrow starts the new Instagram rule where they can use your photos,” said the now viral post. “With this statement, I give notice to Instagram it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents.”
It all sounded very official, so many people took the statement at face value and reposted it to their own accounts without actually checking to see if it had any basis in reality. As it turns out, it does and it doesn’t. On the one hand, it’s an old screenshot — one that has been popping up every few years since about 2012, when Instagram was first purchased by Facebook. On the other hand, some of the rights it claims Instagram has over your content are, in fact, accurate. Instagram doesn’t own your photos, but when you post anything on the platform, you give Instagram the right to use, distribute, alter, and even license those images as they choose. It’s the price Instagram charges for using their app for free. This is nothing new, though. It is part of the terms of service you agreed to when you first downloaded the app, and it is non-negotiable, no matter how many screenshots you post asserting your personal sovereignty. (If you want to read more about exactly what rights Instagram has to your photos, there is a great article on The Fashion Law that lays it all out in an easy-to-understand list.)
Instagram’s actual terms of service aside, the screenshot is really just part of a recurring hoax, one that, this time around, managed to snare some very well known fashion and media personalities. However, there were a handful of celebrities who clocked the viral screenshot for what it really was and posted clever parodies on their own accounts in response. Here are a few of the best. If you were one of the unfortunate people who was duped this time around, hopefully these will take some of the sting out of the experience.
And here are a few non-celebrity responses to this whole situation that are also pretty spot on.
View this post on Instagram
Dear Instagram, you may share my photos if you find me a husband or send me cases of vodka with a bartender (with option of being my husband). Oh, and verify my account because there’s not many “Hanuk” out there. Thank you. #TempGram because I’ve been drinking shit load of rosé. Who am I really? 🍸
Let this be a lesson to all of you: next time, before you take something you read on Instagram (or anywhere for that matter) as fact and act on it, take just a minute to do a little Google search and find out for yourself if what you are reading is really true. Especially if whatever it is that you are reading is in the form of a meme. Memes may feel true, but they seldom actually are and the proof can usually be found on page one of any web search of the meme’s main text. Of course, knowing this probably won’t change your actions in the slightest, but at least we tried.