The Cambridge Analytica data scandal has left a scar on Facebook’s image, so much so that every other web property that the social media giant owns is being scrutinized by the who’s who.
Case in point: Instagram. Facebook recently added Download Your Information link option to give users some control over their social media lives. Some media outlets then asked Facebook to do the same for Instagram too.
While there are apps available for both mobile and computer that allow users to download Instagram photos, Instagram has now made it easier for everyone to do it directly from its website.
Interesting Fact: Instagram revealed on their blog, in September 2017, that they now have 800 million users. Out of that, 500 million are daily active users. That's a lot of data right there!
Download Your Instagram Data
The feature is currently available on the website only, so you will have to visit Instagram in your browser. Click on the Log in link.
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Log in to your account by entering your ID and password.
On the upper right corner of your Instagram feeds screen, you will see three icons. The third one, looks like a bald man to me, is your profile link. Click on it.
Talking about bald man, if you don't know the guy in the above screenshot, you must be living under a "Rock"! (sorry, just had to make that joke)
Once on your profile page, you should see a gear icon near the Edit Profile button. Click on it.
You should now see a pop-up. This is where you can change your password, see which apps have access to your account, change notification settings, check your privacy settings or log out. Click on Privacy and Security.
Scary Fact: In August of last year, millions of Instagram accounts were compromised including those of high profile celebs like Emma Watson. The contact details of these affected accounts were up for grabs on the dark web! Sometimes, I am glad I am not a celeb. It's not all sunshine for them either.
You should now see a bunch of options like account privacy and story sharing settings among others. Scroll down to the very end of the page. The second last option is Data Download.
There is a blue link titled Request Download. Click on it.
This is where Instagram will tell you what sort of data you can expect to download here. I was expecting my photos, videos, and profile data only. Instagram told me they also keep tabs on my comments. In fact, the disclaimer ended with the phrase “and more” which got me thinking. Hmmm.
Maybe they know where I eat, where all my friends are, where I travel or what I like and dislike too. Location based data makes it all easy really. This is interesting as well as scary.
The data will be emailed to you at your registered email ID, however, you may choose to have it sent to a different ID. Instagram further told me that it may take up to 48 hours to collect and send me this data.
Click on the blue Next button after you are sure the email id correct.
You will now be asked to re-enter your password. Do it and click on the blue button that says Request Download.
Note: I noticed that here, LastPass, my preferred password manager, failed to auto-enter my password. I tried to manually 'autofill' it but it still didn’t worked. I am no coder but I think it was done on purpose so that if anyone gains access to your laptop, he/she won’t be able to download your precious data and wreak havoc on your life! Good thought.
Once you click the blue button, Instagram will assure you that they have ‘started creating a file’, and that you should expect an email in 48 hours.
You will also see a new link that says Go to Feed. I couldn’t open it in a new tab though! It took me right back to my homepage. I was expecting a link to a page that would explain to me, in detail, just what kind of data they have on me.
Can't wait 48 hours, can I?
I will update this post again when I do get the zip file. I hope it is not as bad as I think it is, but who am I kidding.
Update: I received the email, about 20 hours after placing the request, with a link to Instagram site. Other than the photos, all the files are in .json format. They also have your search history, connections, contacts, settings, and messages on file.