Multiple viral posts are making their way around social media claiming that Instagram is sharing your precise location with your followers. Instagram has denied these claims, and there are actually protections in place within iOS to further protect your data. Here’s what you need to know…
Is Instagram sharing your precise location with followers?
The viral post, which is being shared predominately on Instagram, has received hundreds of thousands of likes and comments. The post claims that “if you have an iPhone,” Instagram for iOS is sharing your exact location with your followers when you tag a location in a post or story.
For example, if you tag a generic location in a story or post on Instagram, such as “Austin, Texas,” the viral post claims that Instagram will show your exact location to your followers, not a general location. The original source of this claim suggests that this is due to a change in a “recent iOS update,” rather than something Instagram is doing.
The post even goes as far as to say “there are allegedly stalkers and criminals using this feature to find people and break into homes and cars.”
This, of course, is not true in the slightest. Apple has made no changes to location sharing on its end, and Instagram has denied the allegations.
In a response to the original post, Instagram commented the following statement:
We don’t share your location with other people. We use location for things like determining a location tag if you add one to a post or story, but we don’t make your exact location public. If you do want to change your location settings, check out your general device settings.
Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri also chimed in on Twitter to address the viral allegations. “Location Services is a device setting on your phone, not a new feature from Instagram, and it powers things like location tags,” Mosseri explained. “We don’t share your location with other people.”
How to manage your location settings
Given that Instagram, the original post, and Mosseri all make reference to Apple’s own location sharing settings in iOS, we figured it would be worth revisiting how iOS lets you manage your location data.
As we detail in our full guide on managing your location sharing with third-party apps, iOS has three options:
- Never – Your location won’t be shared at all with the third-party app
- Ask Next Time Or When I Share – The app will ask you if you want to share your location and you explicity opt-in for that single time.
- While Using the App – Your location will be shared every time you open the app
Below these three options, there is also a toggle for “Precise Location.” If this is enabled, the app will be allowed to use your specific information. When disabled, the app can only determine your approximate location. You can find these options in the Settings app, then scrolling down and specific app and tapping on it.
It’s up to you to determine which setting you want to use for each of your apps. My general reccomendation is to leave the “Precise Location” option toggled off for almost every application. There’s no reason to give an app like Instagram your precise location data, even if the company claims it’s not using it for any nefarious purposes.
Ultimately, there is no truth to the viral posts making their way around social media about Instagram sharing your precise location with your followers. Still, there are steps you can take to further protect sensitive information like your location data.
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.