Instagram, the low down

Last week I was speaking to a younger person who was feeling very low and pressured about creating their own Instagram account. Instagram is a fast way to share your life with others by sharing photos/videos and it is free. Peers kept asking this person,  why haven’t you got an account and why are you using one? Feeling the pressure, this young person set up their own Instagram account. All that was required was a user name and email account. The young person used their own name including their surname. Within 3 days they had 22 followers, 6 followers they didn’t know and had managed to follow 78 other people. Of the 78 people the youth was following, they personally knew 30 of the followers. This was in 3 days!

The young person showed me a friend of theirs who they were following who had posted personal images of themself. This particular person was the same age and had 433 followers! The youth wasn’t aware of the privacy settings on Instagram. As educators, I believe we educate students on social media such as Facebook (well I hope that we all do). But does our education extend to other social media platforms such as Instagram?

I don’t believe that we should be discouraging students to use social media but we should be showing them how to use social media safely. Are you and your students aware that under the terms and conditions of Instagram:
You must be 13 years of age to use the service. However, when you create an account you are not asked to enter your age?
– You may not post violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos or other content via the Service. However, I saw many sexually suggestive photos on a particular users account?
We may, but have no obligation to, remove, edit, block, and/or monitor Content or accounts containing Content that we determine in our sole discretion violates these Terms of Use. So what happens if a student posts an inappropriate image of another student? Bad luck I guess!
Other Users may search for, see, use, or share any of your User Content that you make publicly available through the Service. In essence, any photo that is uploaded can be used publicly and commercially with out having to ask for your permission under the Instagram user license (Sept, 2012).

Well, what can we do? I am not sure. The best advice that I can suggest at the moment is to acknowledge their use of social media, support them and  keep reminding them of the terms of use of various social media. I searched for an hour or so on YouTube trying to find a good video for students and this is the only one that I could find. I think it will support some of our students.


  1. The last term of service that you listed is the most striking. I use Instagram, and I know you can share links to photos, but there is not official way to download photos from the service. So it seems that the service would not support reuse. Users would have to take a screenshot and crop it to reuse. I suppose this just removes them from any liability in this area. Are those the exact words from the terms of service? It is an interesting issue, for sure.

    • I found the last term of service most striking too and yes, they were the exact terms “Other Users may search for, see, use, or share any of your User Content that you make publicly available through the Service”. Here is a link to their full list of terms Apparently, this term of use became effective in September 2012 when Facebook took over Instagram.

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