Monday, January 7, 2013

Instagram: The danger is in the details

I'm not an early adopter of technology, so many millions of people discovered and used Instagram before it caught my attention.  But once I saw it in use by others, I liked it. I could see how the combination of pictures and funny comments could be entertaining.

So the other day, I decided to try it for myself. Going to the Instagram website, I found they wanted to send me elsewhere. You can't, apparently, register for Instagram at So I chose the "Google Play" option and was sent there.  As I tried to figure out how to get Instagram to work, I happened to click on a tab called "Permissions."

What I saw, well, shocked me. Remember how Greeks used the gift of the Trojan Horse to get inside the walls of Troy? If you install Instagram, you're allowing it:

  • To "read data about your contacts stored on your phone, including the frequency with which you've called, emailed, or communicated in other ways with specific individuals."
  • To save your contact data and "share contact data without your knowledge."
  •  To "modify or delete" the contents of your memory card.
  • To "to get your precise location using the Global Positioning System (GPS) or network location sources such as cell towers and Wi-Fi."
  •  To use your device's camera without you. "This permission allows the app to use the camera at any time without your confirmation."
  •  To "discover information about which applications are used on the device."
 So, let me get this straight. In order to simply look at some offbeat pictures and funny captions, I would be allowing Instagram to snoop into my personal communications, share my calling and texting habits with others, change or delete my data, track my whereabouts, take pictures without my knowledge and look at whatever other software I'm using.

Wow, it's amazing what people will give up just to see some funny pictures.


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