Facts about GDPR & Instagram’s Data Downloads

The specter of general data protection regime aka GDPR (learn more about it here) looms large for American companies and many of them are working hard to comply with the letter of the law, if not its spirit. I got an email from Sonos about privacy, but couldn’t make much sense of the email. Others are worse: the explanations around data and privacy are written by lawyers, not actual humans.

Nevertheless, when it comes to GDPR, no one company is more exposed than Facebook and its crown jewels, Instagram and WhatsApp. The two companies are trying hard to comply. For instance, Instagram recently introduced a “data download” tool that allows you to download your entire history and kill your account. Same with WhatsApp.

Two weeks ago TechCrunch called on Instagram to build an equivalent to Facebook’s “Download Your Information feature so if you wanted to leave for another photo sharing network, you could. The next day it announced this tool would be coming and now TechCrunch has spotted it rolling out to users. Instagram’s “Data Download” feature can be accessed here or through the app’s privacy settings. It lets users export their photos, videos, archived Stories, profile, info, comments, and non-ephemeral messages, though it can take a few hours to days for your download to be ready.

This is part of the GDPR requirements, though some members of technology media are spinning it as a laudatory effort by Instagram & its parent, Facebook, to be more open to change.

It is not exactly right — they are not making these changes of free will, but are being forced to do so by GDPR. Unfortunately, falling for the PR spin of the Facebook Regime is typical for technology journalists, and why it has been able to get away with its surveillance commerce for so long.

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