It seems like our worst fears have come true. Instagram is stealing users’ location and sending it to Facebook. This was bound to happen since the Instagram founders resigned the company.
Many reports have indicated that there’s an Instagram prototype with these data-stealing capabilities. This new privacy setting will send users’ location history to Facebook. Instagram will be able to extract users’ exact GPS location even when they are not using the app.
This would allow Facebook to bludgeon their users with targeted ads and location-based media. The geographically marked information would then be displayed on users’ Activity Log in their Facebook profiles.
The Activity Log would display daily maps of users’ visited locations. Facebook has a history of being on the wrong side of the law when it comes to handling user data. The company was sued this year in May by European legislators for breaking their promise.
Facebook had promised they would not extract users’ information via Whatsapp, and would keep its data separate. But as it turned out this was a lie, and Facebook was fined $122 million which is a chump change for the company.
Moreover, appointing Adam Mosseri as head of Instagram doesn’t help users. Mosseri was the former Vice President of News Feed and one of Zuckerburg’s closest allies. Mosseri had a strenuous relation with the former Instagram founders and they often fought over how Facebook wanted more control of Instagram.
Many users fear, with Mosseri stepping in charge, their privacy will be in a heap of bother. Users fear Instagram will be marred by shady Facebook tactics. These could be sending spam notifications to get users to switch to Facebook, plugging in more ads or extracting more data.
A representative from Facebook told TechCrunch, “To confirm, we haven’t introduced updates to our location settings. As you know, we often work on ideas that may evolve over time or ultimately not be tested or released.”
They further added,” Instagram does not currently store Location History; we’ll keep people updated with any changes to our location settings in the future.”
This statement proves that Facebook is indeed tinkering with Location History sharing. Luckily, the feature hasn’t gone live, at least for now.
According to some leaked photos, the Location History option should be located in Privacy and Security settings. The Location History option will enable Facebook products, Messenger and Instagram to track users’ location through the Location Services on a person’s smartphone.
Now according to the source of the leaks, the update will be opt-in, which means it will be turned off by default (phew!). But, since Location History will not be known to users and only Facebook can see the data, the company can change this rule without any repercussions.
If Location History gets implemented, it will be a dark day for all Instagram users. Instagram would be able to see all the places that a user visited, these include parks, schools, certain offices, and businesses.
By stealing users’ locations, it will be able to analyze the data to develop a business model that more accurately represents the user. This way Instagram will be able to show more relevant ads.