Understanding The Nuances of Instagram Data Transparency Policies

Social media data transparency policies are complicated and often unclear. Here's how to get a better understanding of Instagram data practices.

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April 1, 2019
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Big data has improved transparency of social media sites. You can now download your personal data from them, which allows you to see what records are retained. Data on your photos, videos, comments, profile details and connections can be stored.

Although users can get access to their data, there are still some things that social media networks need to do better. This was covered in an article by the Independent, which mentioned that the boss of Strava says social networks need to do more on data transparency.

Instagram is one of the social networks that allow you to get access to your data. Make sure you understand the process.

How to Access Data as a User

Instagram is one of the networks that enables users to access their data. It is now possible to save all your Instagram data to your own storage drive. Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation privacy rules have played a role in shaping this network’s data transparency policies, because those policies required Instagram to give users more control over their data. Instagram users can choose to retrieve their data at any time.

Steps To Download Your Instagram Data

Currently, the data download feature is only available through your desktop. However, the Instagram team is working towards offering users the opportunity to download data from their iOS and Android devices as well. You will need to take the steps listed below:

  • Step 1: Access the Instagram.com and log in your profile if you have not
  • Step 2: Click on the gear-like icon. It is located on the top-right of your “Edit Profile” button
  • Step 3: A menu will pop up. Click on the Settings gear
  • Step 4: Proceed to click on the Privacy and Security option
  • Step 5: Scroll down to Data Download and select the Request Download
  • Step 6: Enter the email address you want Instagram to send the download link to. If a pop-up does not appear automatically, click next.
  • Step 7: Enter your password and click on Request Download

Data Recovery Feature

When you complete this process, Instagram will create a file with all your data. You will then receive a link to this file in your email. The link may not be sent immediately. In some instances, it can take days. It will depend on how active you are on your Instagram profile. The process may take even up to 48 hours. Do not panic when you don’t receive the data immediately. This probably means that you have been highly active on Instagram and have a lot of data stored.

Type of Data Downloaded

You may be wondering what kind of data will be included in your file. Instagram has all data of your activities on your profile. This is what you will receive in your file. The data in the file comes in the form of JSON files. You can open the JSON file in a text editor to try to parse the raw data. Do not worry; this can be done within your browser. In case you lose the data, you can re-download. All you have to do is access the email the link sent to you and click on it.

The data contained in the file include:

  • The replies and comments you have made to friends posts or on your posts
  • When you started following an Instagram user or when an Instagram user started following you
  • The content that you have liked on the platform; not limited to your Instagram followers
  • The people you blocked on Instagram and when it happened
  • For the popular Instagram hashtag tools; all the hashtags you used or searched for are included
  • The searches that you made; from people to events, to business profiles among others
  • Your posts on your profile and the captions that you used
  • Your profile details like your user name, biography among others
  • Videos that you may have posted to Instagram
  • Instagram photos that you have uploaded
  • Any activities in the direct messages, photos, and others

Understand the Process to Access Data as an Instagram User

It is important to note that deleted content will not be recovered. Data about your interactions with ads on your feed will also not be included.

Conclusion

Even though Instagram’s data-export tool may have come to be due to a policy requirement, it has turned out to be a lifesaver. You can now keep your data even after deleting your account. You can also use the Instagram platform to retrieve photos or other data that you may have lost. It is comforting to have the option to download your data whenever you want.