Instagram: Everything You Need To Know

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We bring you closer to the people and things you love

 

What is the purpose of the app/intended audience?

Instagram is a free social media app to share videos, photos and messages.  The app allows users to follow accounts of their friends, public figures, businesses, organizations and more.  Instagram is one of the Facebook Products after being acquired by Facebook in 2012.

How to use the app

Signing up/Getting Started

Note – The minimum age to have an account is 13 years old. There is the option to have a private (you must approve followers) or public (anyone can view your content) account.

Sharing Photos and Videos

  • You have the option of choosing a photo from your device camera roll or taking a photo directly within the app. You can upload up to 10 photos or video clips between 3 and 60 seconds long.
  • When you select a photo/video you can crop/trim, rotate, straighten and/or add filters/effects to the photo/video.  The filter option allows the user to create a specific “look” with one touch, compared the the effect option which requires to the user to manually adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, etc.
  • Before you share, you can add a caption and attach your location data to an image. Hashtags are frequently used to connect with similar content and users.

Note –  You have the ability to edit your caption after posting, share to other networks (you can connect your Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts) and tag other users in your post.

Exploring Photos and Video

  • ‘Search and Explore’ photos and videos are chosen for each user based on the types of accounts you follow or posts you like.
  • Choose to follow public and private accounts (private will require you to ‘request access’) and specific hashtags.

Note – Some accounts can choose to restrict their content to people over a certain age (ex.  alcohol accounts). Based on the information you provide Instagram (or Facebook), the app will determine if you are able to view the restricted content.

Direct Messages (DMs)

  • Instagram Direct allows you to send private messages to one or more people. The message can include your own photos and videos or posts/stories you see in your feed.
  • Sending disappearing photos/videos – the option to ‘View Once’, ‘Allow Replay’ or ‘Keep in Chat’.
  • ‘Unsend a Message’ – you can delete a message before a user opens the message
  • Send messages to people you do not follow, but they will have to approve the message request before it enters their mailbox.

Note – Instagram has a ‘Report’ feature to flag any abusive or inappropriate messages that are sent to a user.

Stories

  • Stories are photos or videos with the option to add effects, captions, filters and stickers.
  • Upload a video/photo or record directly within the story feature.
  • Stories appear on your profile for 24 hours before they disappear, but you have the option of ‘Highlighting’ or ‘Archiving’ a story for future viewing.
  • See which accounts have watched your story..
  • Record “Live” video to connect with followers in real time.
  • Tag and mention other accounts in your story, which allows users to share a story within their own profile.

Note – Instagram has many controls and options to limit who can see/share your stories. In particular, there is a ‘Close Friends’ feature which allows you to select a sub-group from your followers.

Feed

  • Photos and videos from the accounts you follow are displayed in the feed, with the accounts that ‘Instagram thinks you care about most’ at the top of the feed.
  • Suggested posts and accounts relevant to the people and hashtags you follow will be displayed.
  • Double tap the post or tap the heart icon to like a post.
  • Mute posts/stories of accounts you still want to follow, but do not want to see their content within your feed.

IGTV

  • Upload videos in MP4 file format (15 minutes from a mobile device, 60 minutes maximum from the web).
  • A short excerpt of the video (maximum 60 seconds) will appear on a user’s profile, and then the view can chose to watch the full length video on IGTV.

Terms of Use, Privacy, Safety and Data Collection

All content must follow Instagram’s Community Guidelines:

We want Instagram to continue to be an authentic and safe place for inspiration and expression. Help us foster this community. Post only your own photos and videos and always follow the law. Respect everyone on Instagram, don’t spam people or post nudity.

  • Share only photos and videos that you’ve taken or have the right to share.
  • Post photos and videos that are appropriate for a diverse audience.
  • Foster meaningful and genuine interactions.
  • Follow the law.
  • Respect other members of the Instagram community.
  • Maintain our supportive environment by not glorifying self-injury.

Here is the TL;DR version of Instagram’s Terms of Use:

  • Offering personalized opportunities to create, connect, communicate, discover, and share 
    • Instagram “builds systems” (algorithms) to try and understand who/what you care about and uses this information to create a unique user experience.
  • Fostering a positive, inclusive, and safe environment.
    • Teams and systems exist to combat abuse, violations of terms and deceptive behaviour. Instagram may share information about misues with other Facebook Companies or law enforcement.
  • Developing and using technologies that help us consistently serve our growing community.
    • A big part of Instagram is using “cutting-edge technologies” to help personalize and protect users. This includes artificial intelligence (AR), machine learning and automated technologies.
  • Providing consistent and seamless experiences across other Facebook Company Products.
    • Instagram is part of Facebook, so it shares technology systems, insights and information about you to provide “safe and more secure” services.
  • Ensuring a stable global infrastructure for our Service.
    • Data is stored and transferred in systems around the world (meaning, outside of your country of residence).
  • Connecting you with brands, products, and services in ways you care about.
    • Data from Instagram (or other Facebook products) and third-party partners is used to show ads, offers and other sponsored content.
  • Research and innovation.
    • Instagram uses information you provide to study the “Service” and collaborate with others to make the “Service” better.

Instagram clearly explains that to use their service, you agree to the “collecting and using” information requirement. This is outlined in the Instagram Data Policy. (A reminder that information shared on Instagram is also used to support other Facebook products).

Information collected:

  • Information and content YOU provide (in or about the content, like metadata – location of a photo or the date a file was created)
  • Things you see through features like the camera (so masks and filters can be suggested)
  • Networks and connections (the accounts and hashtags your follow) and if you choose to upload, sync or import it from a device (such as an address book or call log or SMS log history), to help you find people you may know.
  • Usage – the types of content you view or engage with, features used, time, frequency and duration of activities.
  • Information from others, like when they share or comment on a photo of you or send a message to you.

Device Information

  • Attributes (information, operating system, hardware, etc); signals (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi access); device settings (GPS location); Network and connections (mobile operator, timezone, nearby devices); Cookie data (including cookie IDs and settings).

Instagram Cookies Policy

Cookies are used to improve your overall app experience. A few key points:
  • Instagram or advertising partners will use cookies to deliver ads relevant to your interests.
  • This information may be shared with organizations outside of Instagram.
  • First (belong to Instagram) and third-party cookies are used (placed on your device by business partners for advertising products to you elsewhere on the Internet.

How is the information used?

  • Provide, personalize and improve our Products.
    • To offer content/advertisements you may be interested in and topics you want to follow.
    • Connects information across all Facebook products (example, Facebook might suggest a group to follow based on the people you follow on Instagram).
    • Location information (current location, where you live, where you travel, businesses and people you are near). Collected from ‘precise device location’ (if you allow Instagram to collect it), IP addresses and information from other Facebook products (like events or check-ins on Facebook).
    • Face recognition (read about how they use face recognition technology) and how to control it in Facebook Settings. It is currently only used on Facebook, but if it is introduced on Instagram, they claim to “let you know first”.
    • Ads and other sponsored content – all based on information collected and supplied by you.
  • Promote safety, integrity and security.
    • The information you provide is used to verify accounts and activity, harmful experiences, detect and prevent spam.
    • The company even uses AI to detect when someone needs help.

How is the information shared?

  • People and accounts you share and communicate with
    • You chose the audience (public or private accounts) and the information that is available to all public (like usernames, profile bio).
  • Content others share or reshare about you
    • Be aware of what you are sharing with others, because even if you have a private account, your followers could download, screenshot or reshare your content on or off Instagram.
    • Your comments on other posts are visible to those account followers
    • If you are uncomfortable with what others have shared, you can report the content.
  • Apps, websites, and third-party integrations on or using our Products.
    • Facebook uses a lot of third-party integrations (like games), but the policy makes it clear that it will not share your Instagram information with third-party apps that you use on Facebook.
  • Important note from the policy: “We are in the process of restricting developers’ data access even further to help prevent abuse. For example, we will remove developers’ access to your Facebook and Instagram data if you haven’t used their app in 3 months, and we are changing Login, so that in the next version, we will reduce the data that an app can request without app review to include only name, Instagram username and bio, profile photo and email address. Requesting any other data will require our approval.”
  • Third-Party Partners
    • Types include: analytic services, advertisers, vendors, researchers, law enforcement or legal requests.

Managing or deleting data

  • You have the ability to access, rectify, port and erase your data in your Instagram Settings.
  • Data is stored until it is ” no longer necessary to provide our services and Facebook Products, or until your account is deleted – whichever comes first.”
  • When you delete your account, Instagram deletes all your posts. You have the option of deactivating your account if you want to temporarily stop using Instagram.

Potential Educational Value

Instagram is very relevant and current among younger generations. This Instagram Demographics analysis shows who uses Instagram in the USA:

  • Ages 18–24: 75%
  • Ages 25–29: 57%
  • Ages 30–49: 47%
  • Ages 50–64: 23%
  • Ages 65+: 8%

Furthermore, “According to Piper Jaffray’s 2019 Taking Stock With Teens consumer insights survey, 85% of teens say Instagram is their preferred social network (followed shortly by Snapchat). This is a massive jump from 2017 when a mere 24% said they preferred the site.”

With these stats in mind, it is fair to say that Instagram is a very popular social media app.  If you want to use Instagram for educational purposes, you do not need to attract your students (middle years students and higher) to use the app – they are probably already using it.  Also, many parents may have an account and might prefer to see classroom updates on Instagram compared to a separate school app.

This article suggest ways to use Instagram in education, always highlighting the importance of following your school division social media policy.  With a private class account, you could share student work or capture class memories.

Overall

While I like the idea of using Instagram with schools (mostly because it is an easy way to connect with a large audience that already uses the app), I think there are better educational apps for this purpose (like SeeSaw).  Instagram is a fun tool to talk about with students and way to explore digital leadership when using social media.

Pros

  • Very simple and user friendly interface with a focus on photo and video media.
  • Many creative options like filters, stickers and text options. Even though it is a “photo and video” sharing app, the post captions are a place for users to express themselves through text.
  • Wide user base (personal, businesses, public figures, organizations, pets, journalism – the options are endless). Verified accounts make it easy for users to find public figures, celebrities or brands they want to follow.
  • Professional Accounts can access business features and insights to grow their business (including paid “promoted” posts).
  • Easy integration to share posts on Facebook account, since Instagram is owned by Facebook, BUT…

Cons

  • Instagram is a ‘Facebook Product’, therefore all your information is also shared with Facebook. Similarly, the information you provide Facebook affects your Instagram experience. While the cross-platform idea is designed to make your social media experience very personal, your data is being shared in many different places. Bottom line – make sure you understand that Facebook owns Instagram.
  • The educational opportunities are limited. This is not an educational social media app (like Flipgrid), but rather a tool that could be used for educational purposes (more of a “create your own” educational experience).
  • There is no “consent” option for parents if educators want to share images of students on Instagram. Schools/divisions would be responsible for developing their own policy regarding the use of social media (similar to a media release that allows school photos on a Twitter account).

I am a big fan of Instagram and it is my preferred social media app.  I like that I can follow a wide range accounts (from personal friends, large organizations, public figures, pets, and more) all in one place.  I also follow funny meme accounts that I can share in direct messages (DMs) with close friends and create/share posts and stories of my personal experiences like travel.  I keep a private account and only accept follow requests from people I know personally and routinely adjust which accounts I follow to keep my feed more interesting.  All that being said, I do not think I will be using Instagram as an educational tool any time soon.  I think it is a great way to discuss social media and digital citizenship with students, but I am not convinced that it would enhance our educational experience.

Until next time,

@Catherine_Ready

5 thoughts on “Instagram: Everything You Need To Know

  1. Great post Catherine! I agree and relate with many of the things you said in this post.

    In terms of educational value, I agree that there are many other tools and resources that are far more valuable in a classroom. I use Seesaw in my classroom because it can do so many things that a tool like Instagram can do, and more (Digital Portfolio, Communication, Activities, Less privacy concerns, etc.).

    I do think that a classroom Instagram could be used for modelling digital citizenship and finding ways to positively contribute online. There are many schools in Regina that do a great job of using Instagram as part of their communication strategy. Also, as students get older, most of them have personal Instagram accounts and they can connect with their classroom account.

    In saying that, I feel that some teachers use Instagram to showcase themselves as a teacher and not necessarily the students. Although it’s not necessarily a bad thing to improve our digital portfolio as a teacher, I think teachers must consider about how they are using student data and images to improve their personal digital portfolio. I think it’s important to step back and reflect on the purpose and benefit of any tool that we are using in the classroom.

    Thanks for the read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your reply, Trevor. I forgot about the ‘teacher sharing’ aspect of Instagram – I even follow few accounts for ideas with my students/family. But you are right – it’s more of a way to improve our own teaching portfolios rather than engage students. Are you doing an assignment just so you can post it on Instagram and get lots of attention? Or are you doing the assignment because it’s beneficial for your students…the whole Instagram vs. Reality topic, which I didn’t even explore! Thanks for raising these ideas and sharing your comments with me.

      Like

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