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How to stop Instagram from tracking everything you do

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While the Facebook-owned app doesn’t give users full control, there are ways to limit the data it collects and the types of ads that appear.

Instagram is a real money machine. Facebook doesn’t release exact figures on how much it makes from the app, but reports claim that it generated about $20 billion in ad revenue in 2019, which is a quarter of Facebook’s total annual revenue. In other words, that’s more money than YouTube makes for Google.

Two things are at the heart of Instagram’s financial success: the ads (the stories it pulled from Snapchat) and the information that fuels all those ads. There are a lot of her there .

Instagram, through its integration with Facebook, uses your personal information to show you ads it thinks you’re more likely to click on. Information about what you do in the app and on Facebook, about your phone and behavior when you navigate through parts of the network that Facebook does not own.

First, all your Instagram activities are tracked. Almost every internet service you use collects information about it. Any thumb scroll made from your account provides the company with information about your behavior. Instagram knows you spent 20 minutes scrolling to the bottom of your high school crush’s profile at 2am.

The data that Instagram collects is not just for advertising purposes. The Company uses your personal information, for example, to detect suspicious login attempts. Crash reporting from your phone can help an app identify bugs in its code and identify parts of it that no one is using. In 2019, Instagram retired the tab that showed public posts you liked.

Other than completely uninstalling the app, there’s little you can do to stop Instagram from tracking your behavior on the platform, but there are things you can do to limit some of the data it collects and the types of ads you see.

Deleting (some) of your data

Want to see the information you’ve provided to Instagram? Go to the app’s settings page and click on the " Security " button. Here you can view and download the information Instagram has collected about you. If you click on " Access Data ", you will be able to see any changes to your password, email address and phone number associated with this account, as well as additional information about how you use the application.

There are 25 categories of information that is collected, from interactions with polls you click on in people’s stories, to hashtags you follow, to changes to your biography information. A tool to access this data from Instagram can be found here.

While you can see all of this data, there is little you can do with it. Your search history can be deleted using the security menu options, but you only delete it locally. Instagram and Facebook still know what or who you were looking for. "Keep in mind that clearing your search history is temporary and that searches you’ve deleted may reappear in your history after you enter them again," reports Instagram.

You can also delete contacts that you may have linked to Instagram using your phone number. This includes clearing names and phone numbers. Instagram and Facebook hijack your contacts to send promotional offers to your friends, but they also gain knowledge of your social activity in this way.

This Instagram page shows you if you have uploaded any of your contacts and allows you to delete them. Deleting the past will not stop the download of new contacts appearing on your phone. This setting can be turned on or off through the settings menu on iOS or Android.

The ability to upload your data includes photos, comments, profile information, and more. These permissions are requested through the security menu.

Location

You are probably using Instagram on your phone. By default, Instagram’s location data collection feature is disabled, but you most likely enabled this feature unintentionally while adding your location to a post or story.

To change this, or at least check if you’ve given the app permission, open the settings on your phone. This cannot be done through the Instagram app.

On Android, go to the " Settings " section, then click on " Apps " and find Instagram. Here you can see if you have given it permission to access your location, microphone, device storage, contacts. You can turn these settings on and off, allowing Instagram to access your location at all times, either only while using the app, or never.

If you have an iPhone, the process is similar. Click the phone’s settings menu, go to " Privacy " and then to " Location Service " and search for Instagram. Here you can choose whether location tracking is turned on all the time you use the app, or turned off completely.

Managing ads in stories

As Instagram tries to (successfully) make a lot of money, the app has been filled with ads. What you’re seeing technically comes from the parent company. Facebook and Instagram are one ad server and they are inseparable.

Instagram shows Facebook ads based on what you like. This is based on what you do on Instagram (such as liking posts from certain brands) as well as what you do on non-Facebook websites and services. Pixel by Facebook is a tiny piece of code found on almost every website you visit. It collects information about what resource you visited. Pixel also collects data about your online activity and associates it with an identifier that helps you decide which ads you see.

This is just one of the ways in which data is collected that goes into the storage of the company’s large advertising machine. "Advertisers, app developers, and publishers may send information to us through the Facebook business tools they use, including our social plugins (such as the Like button), Facebook login, API and SDK, or Facebook Pixel," the policy says. Facebook. This includes what you buy and the websites you visit.

So what can you do about it on Instagram? Controls are limited. In the application, under the " Settings " tab, you are able to track your advertising activity. Based on this data, the business shows you ads that you interacted with, such as by commenting on a post, liking an ad, or viewing a large number of ads. There are also external links from the Instagram app that explain the advertising mechanism on the platform.

If you don’t like a particular ad, you can hide it by clicking on the three dots that appear next to it. You can also report inappropriate ads if you think they violate Instagram’s policies.

In fact, to try and control ads on Instagram, you need to go to Facebook. Here you can change the preference settings that will apply to both Instagram and Facebook. Instagram without Facebook does not have any preference settings for its users. The company says it’s hard at work building controls into the app.

The Facebook ad preference page is a treasure trove of information. Here you will understand what Facebook thinks about your interests, you will see companies that have downloaded information about you, how advertising is targeted, its settings; ads you choose to hide. To change the ads you see, you need to spend a small amount of time on this page working with the settings.

Some of the key decisions that can be made are contained in your information. You can opt out of viewing ads based on your job, job title, relationship status, and education. The " Businesses " section allows you to prevent companies that have uploaded information about you from showing you ads. And ad settings will prevent Facebook products from showing you ads based on information collected from other websites and services you visit.

For all of this to apply to Instagram, your accounts must be linked.

Deleting Instagram

If you’re just tired of Instagram, you can uninstall the app. You unfortunately cannot delete your Instagram account along with the app; you should visit this page to do so. “When you delete your account, your profile, photos, videos, comments, likes and followers will also be permanently deleted," the company said. You can also temporarily disable your account.

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