First off, here's a quick explainer of Facebook's association with Instagram. According to Instagram, the photo-sharing app announced in September of 2012 that it had been acquired by Facebook. While this development brought together all the best parts of two top-notch social media platforms, it also consolidated both company's data collection efforts as well as added many more levels to their respective privacy policies; and these facts are suddenly seeming like much bigger deals.
Instagram Can Use Your Facebook Data To Target Ads To You
The Way This Data Is Collected Is Complicated
The policy also notes that Instagram can share information with "businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that Instagram is part of, or that become part of that group." This means the Facebook family of companies, basically, which includes companies like Instagram and Whatsapp. Facebook became very much affiliated with Instagram when they bought it. The sum total of user information you've provided to both Facebook and Instagram (intentional or not) is therefore subject to use by the whole company. Facebook can use the data collected via Instagram — your posts, your likes, the accounts you're following, and more — to target ads to you seamlessly across both platforms. As detailed in the Wall Street Journal, if you have given permission to the social media platform by agreeing to share your interests with Facebook, or even using your Facebook account to sign into other sites, Facebook can use the data it receives about, for instance, things you've bought, where you've visited in the physical world, and which apps you're using, to target ads. As a company owned by Facebook, Instagram can use the same data for ads — and it can gather its own data based on your Instagram interactions to further target ads to you on Facebook.
I know, it sounds complicated. But, it's worth noting that Facebook has responded to all of this with some changes to their privacy and security functionality. Starting Mar. 28, FB users can access a redesigned, streamlined privacy settings menu that is intended to make it easier for them to control their data, according to TIME. Additionally, users can also more easily view the Facebook (and, therefore, Instagram) data policy so that there's more transparency across the community.
How To Minimize The Amount Of Information Instagram & Facebook Have Access To
Assuming this news about targeted ad content across Facebook and Instagram has you reeling, there are things you can do. Tap "Settings" in the Facebook app, then "Account Settings," then "Ads." Within this menu, you'll be able to read more about which advertisers you've interacted with and what information is being used to make those connections. You can also turn off, or change what ads are being targeted to you.