oh my god, obviously that viral instagram post is a hoax

Let's all take a cue from Taylor Swift and calm down.

by Roisin Lanigan
21 August 2019, 10:21am

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

You would think at this point in the dark timeline of the internet which we all involuntarily inhabit that nothing would shock us anymore. We live at the intersection of extremely online phenomena like cats singing "Mr Sandman" on TikTok and doctors doing surgery on a grape, and a golden age of hoaxes, as exemplified by Anna Delvey and the dumpster fire that was Fyre Festival. So perhaps that’s why, when a new online hoax comes along, it appears all the more glaring.

Today, there’s a copy and paste going around on Instagram. You’ve probably seen it if anyone on your timeline exists on the spectrum of Fiat 500 or Dark Fruits Instagram, if they’ve ever tweeted about their holiday with “this one”, shared “yoga mom” memes, or DMd you to invite you to a MLM scheme selling oils that cure cancer.

“Don’t forget” the screenshot cautions, “tomorrow starts the new Instagram rule where they can use your photos. Don’t forget Deadline today!!! It can be used in court cases in litigation against you. Everything you’ve ever posted becomes public from today.”

The post goes on to frantically warn users that even messages and photos which have been deleted have become the property of the social media app, and rather vaguely mentions that it’s been “discussed on Channel 13 news” (do people still have TV channels? Wild!). The copy and paste, which has since gone viral around the world, presumably in places with access to Channel 13 news, says that just by sharing the screenshot to your own Instagram the change will not apply to you, and all your precious content will be safe.


First of all, in the words of our Lord and Saviour Taylor Swift: you need to calm down. Whether it’s the poor spelling and grammar in the “warning”, or the fact that nobody has actually seen the ‘Channel 13’ news broadcast warning us of impending social apocalypse, the post is obviously fake. It also clearly illustrates that the gullible baby boomers who have taken over Facebook are now on Instagram too. Sad! Instagram, for their part, has been silent on the craze and the supposed total overhaul of the T&C’s -- the last image they shared was of this cursed horse. Suspicious?

Look, obviously privacy concerns are everywhere in the age of social media. We all heard the whispers about how the Russians were apparently going to use our artificially-aged selfies from FaceApp to rig another election or something. And, joking aside, many of those privacy concerns are warranted. The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal only highlighted how readily our data can be mined and stored to be used against us. Perhaps it’s that culture of suspicion and fear that explains how easily this current Instagram hoax has taken hold.

Rather than just being something your grandma sends you on Facebook messenger, amid endless -- endless -- minion memes, the Instagram photo hoax post has been shared by a huge cross section of users. One Twitter user pointed out that it has even been picked up by celebrities. Julia Roberts has posted it, presumably to the despair of her long-suffering social media manager, while Debra Messing posted it, deleted it, then thought better of it and posted it again (perhaps this leaves her doubly protected from the hackers). Rob Lowe’s post was swiftly dragged by his own sons. Also taken in were Wacka Flocka, P!nk, Julianne Moore, Usher, Scooter Braun and Beyoncé’s mum. No, Ms Tina! Don’t share the Instagram hoax post aha ur so sexy.

Some celebrities though, have at least had a bit of fun with the clearly fake craze. John Mayer created his own version of the announcement, giving Instagram permission to use all of his content, including his meatloaf recipe, woke magic tricks and “photographs of sinks”. Comedian Trevor Noah also called attention to the hoax with a post of his own, poking fun at the incorrect spelling and grammar in the “warning” and the vague mentions of a Channel 13 news broadcast that nobody seems to be able to identify. “Ok now we are safe my friends,” the post ends. “The Instagram demon is dead!”


This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

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