A few questions about Instagram

Final update: Folks, just ignore this entire post.  Apparently I’m an idiot when it comes to technology.  Find me on Instagram @allspiceabounds.  🙂

Today I’m going to put myself out there and ask a few potentially dumb questions about Instagram.  I am probably the last person on earth not to jump on the Instagram bandwagon, and I realize that I’m missing out on a lot of awesome sewing-related stuff that happens there.  Technically I have an account, but I’ve never actually used it.  Sewing friends, perhaps you can clear up some of my concerns.

The biggest factor holding me back is privacy.  As far as I can tell, you have to turn on your device’s “location” feature in order to install and use the Instragram app.  Am I understanding this correctly?  If so, this is enough to prevent me from using the service.  I always keep the location feature turned off on my laptop and phone in an attempt to hold on to one of the last shreds of online privacy offered to us.  I realize that I can be tracked to within a short distance of my actual location based on my phone pinging off cell phone towers, but I don’t believe I can be tracked to my exact GPS coordinates if my location feature is turned off.  Please correct me if I’m wrong though – I admit to being somewhat uninformed about how these things work.

My issue with the location feature is safety.  As a woman living in an urban area, I take my personal safety pretty seriously.  (Who doesn’t, right?)  Just within the last 2 weeks, I’ve been a few blocks away from a stabbing incident, a shooting incident, and a sexual assualt.  And these are just the instances I’m aware of.  I feel pretty strongly about keeping my exact location at any given time as private as I can, with the understanding that my ability to do so while using online services is already quite limited.

Friends, can you help me with these questions?

  1. Is turning your location feature on required to use Instagram?
  2. If so, do all your photos get geo-tagged?
  3. Who has access to this information?
  4. Can I turn my location feature off after installing the app and use Instagram without providing location information?
  5. Do you have any concerns about the location-based aspects of Instagram, or am I just being paranoid?

Thanks in advance for any information or advice you can offer.  While I’d like to join the Instagram sewing community, I want to make sure I understand exactly what that entails.

Edited to add:

Here’s what I get when I try to install Instagram on my phone.  Note that I have a Windows phone, and Instagram is only available in beta format for this device.  Perhaps turning your location on is only required for the Windows app?

instagram-location-request

Edited to add (again):

It seems like the Instagram location requirement may be specific to the Microsoft/Windows platform, and in fact is a blanket requirement for nearly all Windows apps.  Check out this forum post and this follow-up for details.  Based on my own research, it also seems to apply to third-party Instagram apps for both Windows phones and Windows-based PCs.  Needless to say, this is pretty sketchy and annoying.  This also explains why most people don’t have to turn on location services to use Instagram but we suckers who purchased Windows phones do.  Oh well!  I refuse to turn my location on, so Instagram will just have to carry on without me.  🙂  Thanks to all for your help and info on this.

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14 thoughts on “A few questions about Instagram

  1. You don’t have to turn on location settings to install or use instagram – tagging locations is entirely optional. If you’re concerned about where you live being identifiable just don’t upload photos of the local area if you can avoid it. I very rarely location tag and it’s usually places where I do NOT live 🙂 you can also set your profile to private so you can completely control who you let see your profile.

    Hope that helps a little, if not just let me know and I’ll see if I can help more x

    • Thanks for this info, Jenny! I wonder if the apparent location requirement is specific to Microsoft/Windows. I’ve updated my post with the screen I get on my (Windows) phone when I try to install the app. It’s good to know that other platforms don’t have this requirement. Maybe I’ll have to wait to join Instagram until I get a new phone!

  2. I am a newbie to IG as well (within the last year) and most of the time I cannot even get the location part to work so most of my photos have no location tag. When I have gotten it to work I use very broad location tags, i.e. the city where I am never the address. The only time I’ve used specific places is when I am at a tourist location such as the city’s botanical gardens, etc. I hope this helps. And as Jenny states you can make your account private. Good luck

  3. You don’t have to have location turned on to use Instagram. I have my location turned off 95% of the time and it works just fine. And actually, I’m not even sure that it automatically adds your location unless when you go to post you select “add location.”
    If you do add one, anyone that can see your picture can see the location. If you don’t add one, everyone just sees the picture and whatever caption you use, that’s it.

    You can set your profile to private. This means that if someone wants to see your stuff, they have to request to follow you. Mine is set that way. I have like 10 followers, but I know who everyone is. You can still follow however many people you want and see all their stuff (if public or you follow them).

    A downside to this is that no one new can discover your stuff. You can still add hashtags and stuff for your own benefit and organization, but it won’t show up globally.

    For instance, I use #catstagram all the time, but if someone searches the hashtag to look at cats, they won’t see mine unless they’re already following me. Same with tagging someone in a caption or photo- they won’t know unless they’re allowed to see your stuff. So I can make a bag and use the name as a hashtag and tag the patternmaker but if she doesn’t follow me, she won’t see it.

    So if you want to enter giveaways where you have to post a picture with a tag/hashtag, etc.- the person running it has to be following you to see your entry. So…I miss out on a lot of contests.

    I don’t generally add a location to any of my photos, but I do use the hashtag of my town from time to time. Again, since I’m on private it’s no big deal, if I wasn’t, it still wouldn’t bother me that much.

    You’re not paranoid, but it’s not as bad as you think.

    • Thanks, this is all very useful information! It seems similar to Facebook in the way you describe the privacy settings, which makes sense since Facebook owns Instagram. I’m also glad to hear that you aren’t forced to use geo-tagging, which to me seems pretty invasive. I do tend to be a bit paranoid about these things, which I guess is left over from the initial days of the internet. Does anyone even remember pre-internet days anymore?? 🙂

    • I have a private account as well (which I am so thankful for!), and while you are right about the #’s, if you tag someone with the @ symbol, they can see that you tagged them and read the comment or post that you used the @ in (but not anything else that you post unless they follow you).

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