So you finally came around and deleted your Facebook account? Congratulations! Now it's time to delete Instagram as well. #DeleteFacebook #DeleteInstagram
It’s Easter, which means a long weekend here in Norway. Thursday through Monday are holidays, and many people take the entire week off because schools and most kindergartens are closed for Easter vacation.
It’s common for Norwegians to head up into the mountains during Easter. They don’t do it to come closer to God, but to relax in their cozy cabins. Easter also means high tide in social media. People are not shy about sharing their photos of said cabins, snow, skiing, and of course, the evergreen Norwegian tradition of eating oranges and Kvikk Lunsj.
Many of these photos are shared on Instagram. It’s one of the most popular photo sharing services on the internet. In June 2018, Instagram had 1 billion monthly active users. These users have shared a total of 50 billion photos since the photo sharing service was launched in 2010.
On the surface, Instagram is pretty neat. But did you know that Instagram’s parent company is Facebook?
There is No Privacy Where We’re Going.
Instagram was acquired by Facebook in 2012 for approximately 1 billion US dollar in cash and stock. In Facebook’s hands, the Instagram user base grew rapidly. And in true Facebook fashion, the service was soon tightly integrated with the Facebook site.
Over the last couple of years, Facebook has been involved in numerous privacy scandals and controversies. Things really started to go downhill fast in early 2018, with the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Whistleblowers revealed that personal information of over 87 million Facebook users had been harvested by the data mining and analysis firm, which was involved in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Since then, it hasn’t been a month without some sort of bad news for Facebook and its users.
Just this month, it has been revealed that Facebook asked some new users for their e-mail password, exposed 540 million user records on public-facing servers, and collected 1.5 million people’s e-mail contacts without their consent. These three incidents alone should be enough for you to delete your Facebook account if you haven’t done so already.
But Facebook ups the ante: Last month, the company issued a press release with the title “Keeping Passwords Secure". Unlike what you would expect from the title, the press release revealed that “some user passwords were being stored in a readable format”, i.e. clear text. In Facebook’s world, “some” actually means “hundreds of millions” of users.
Delete It. Delete it Now
On April 18, Facebook quietly amended the press release with the following information:
Since this post was published, we discovered additional logs of Instagram passwords being stored in a readable format. We now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users.
– Facebook press release
As an Instagram user, you’re not safe from Facebook’s repeated incompetency when it comes to security and privacy. The only sane thing to do is to get the hell out of Facebook’s sphere of influence while you can.
You can’t delete your Instagram account from the phone app. Of course not, it is, after all, just the main interface for the vast majority of Instagram users. Instead, you have go to the account deletion page on the Instagram website. They will beg you to deactivate your account instead of deleting it permanently. But you’ll not fall for that. Delete that shit right now: Log in, state the reason you want to delete your account, re-enter your password, and click the big, red button.
I realize that some Instagram users are not social media vampires that feed off the likes, comments, and attention you get from posting filter-heavy photos on Instagram. Neither are you so-called influences, who do not contribute to the greater good in any way, shape or form.
Perhaps you use Instagram for sharing photos with close friends and family on private account. And that’s a very valid use for a service like Instagram. But fear not, there are other ways to share your photos, ways that don’t put your privacy at risk. If you do a quick search for “alternatives to Instagram” on the internet, you’ll find a lot of options. Selecting the one that is right for you will probably require some research, but it’s worth it.
If you like the idea of the Fediverse, then PixelFed might be of interest. It’s a photo sharing application that takes a lot of inspiration from Instagram, and if you’re a wee bit tech savvy you can even host it yourself.
That’s it, kids. Next time, we’ll talk about WhatsApp, another Facebook product that you should stop using sooner rather than later. Why? You already know why.