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Instagram's privacy policy allows it to share private photos and messages.

Instagram cannot share its users content publicly unless it is given permission to do so.

In 2019, some social media posts claimed that Instagram would own private photos and messages of its users. "Everything you've ever posted becomes public from today, even messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed," the post claimed. This claim is false.

Instagram's privacy policy clearly states that if one's profile is private, only their followers can view their content. Instagram's legal terms and conditions state that it collects its user's data, including information given while signing up for the app, metadata, and features they use. Instagram will only disclose account information to law enforcement in accordance with Stored Communications Act (“SCA”), 18 U.S.C. Sections 2701-2712. According to SCA, Instagram will disclose a user's profile content if they are under a criminal investigation, if the court orders it or a warrant is issued. Other than these criteria, Instagram cannot publish its user's content publicly without consent.

Facebook spokesperson Stephanie Otway told Time that Instagram is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. According to the Terms of Use under "Permissions You Give to Us,” Instagram does not claim ownership of your content, but users grant them a license to use it.

In 2012, a nearly identical memo was making rounds on Facebook, which owns Instagram. Logically debunked this claim stating that Facebook does not own its users' content. As a Facebook user, you grant Facebook a right to use, share, and distribute your content per your privacy settings.

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