Instagram’s TOS Rewritten for Teens Reveals the Powers of the Platform

Instagram, the photo sharing app used by 500 million people as of June 2016, is great as a platform for checking out shelter dogs enjoying puppucinos, exploring the Rick and Morty “Rickstaverse,” or generally getting a small hit of dopamine from seeing the hearts roll in for your latest cosplay selfie. But in order to join in on the Insta-fun, users have to sign a Terms of Service agreement (TOS), which is a lot like Darth Vader’s torso: nobody’s ever really seen the whole thing.

To help people better understand Instagram’s TOS, specifically teens in the U.K., a British lawyer, Jenny Afia — an expert in privacy law — decided to rewrite the terms using simple language. Afia’s TOS, which comes via Quartz, is available in full here on page 10, and reveals aspects of the agreement that many users may not be aware of. Quartz highlighted several areas that may be disconcerting, although one point seems to stand out as especially Orwellian:“Although you are responsible for the information you put on Instagram, we may keep, use and share your personal information with companies connected with Instagram. This information includes your name, email address, school, where you live, pictures, phone number, your likes and dislikes, where you go, who your friends are, how often you use Instagram, and any other personal information we find such as your birthday or who you are chatting with, including in private messages (DMs).We are not responsible for what other companies might do with this information…” ( Instagram’s privacy policy for further clarification.)

In fairness to Instagram, the first point on Afia’s TOS is “You have the right to feel safe using Instagram,” and it seems reasonable to think that a lot of what Instagram is asking for, including the ability to erase your account, or any photos you post at any time for any reason, goes toward censoring especially offensive content.

For comparison, you can check out Instagram’s own Terms of Service here. Note that Instagram does offer relatively simple language under the “Basic Terms” banner.

What do you think about Instagram’s Terms of Service? Do you think anything the company’s asking for is too much, or do you just need that hit of dopamine? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Images: Flickr /  Jhaymesisviphotography

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