Instagram terms-of-service hoax: Who benefits?

Chris Burns - Aug 21, 2019, 10:06 am CST
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Instagram terms-of-service hoax: Who benefits?

“Don’t forget tomorrow starts the new Instagram rule where they can use your photos,” reads the post. “Everything you’ve ever posted becomes public from today.” Does this sound familiar? Celebrities like Judd Apatow and Beyonce’s mother didn’t think so. They decided to re-post iterations of the text to Instagram this week, resulting in the hoax spreading like wildfire across the fact of Instagram. Last we saw this hoax, it was on Facebook.

If you’ll take a peek back at January 4, 2019 you’ll find our report on the “Facebook deadline” and its current state on the world’s largest social network. The message originated all the way back in the year 2012, when some monster decided that they’d create a text copy-paste meme suggesting Facebook’s new IPO would change the way your media was shared.

What is UCC 1-308-11308-103

In the quoted text, the code “UCC 1-308-11308-103” is often repeated. This is a real reference to a real legal text from the United States Uniform Commercial Code. This text comes from The American Law Institute and the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, posted to Cornell’s Legal Information Institute if you’d like to explore further.

Oddly it would appear that the code is garbled – it’s actually just UCC 1-308 repeated over and over again. UCC 1-308 states that “A party that with explicit reservation of rights performs or promises performance or assents to performance in a manner demanded or offered by the other party does not thereby prejudice the rights reserved.”

This basically means that a person’s rights cannot be removed just because they’re performing for another person. In this case, sharing content on a social network shouldn’t mean your privacy can be violated any more than it can be in any other environment.

But here’s the thing: You don’t need to type that on your profile for it to be true. It just IS true. You don’t need to read the constitution aloud on the street corner in order for your rights to be legally respected.

Better safe than sorry

This message will sometimes be posted by users who think and/or add “I may as well do this, better safe than sorry, right?” No, sir or ma’am, there is no good reason to post this load of text to your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or any other social network of any sort. Posting the text, copy-pasting the text, or even creating your own new box of text with similar messaging inside does nothing. There is no legal standing for such text – posting this message literally does nothing positive.

Who benefits?

Why would someone push this message to be spread across social networks? It’s a flag. People who see a message like this on a social network and automatically re-post are targeted. They’re seen as easily manipulated and less-than-willing to go the extra mile to research a message before they spread said message.

What can I do if I’ve already posted?

You can do your best to research messages like this in the future before you post them or re-post them to your social network of choice. All you need to do is copy a key part of a given message and do a search.

Chances are GOOD that friendly sites like SlashGear will point you in the right direction – with evidence of intent – in a matter of moments. Just a few moments can save you, and future generations, a lot of digital pain in the near and distant future. Thank you for doing your part!


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