The world of social media can be an interesting place. Every few weeks, I see a hoax on various social platforms — mainly Facebook and Instagram — about how changes to the platform will negatively impact users.

You’ve seen the messages and feed posts where a platform will own your photos, unless you repost a specific message to your feed. Or where you won’t see a person’s updates unless you subscribe to notifications.

Needless to say, these are always false.

And just a few days ago, Instagram users fell victim to another hoax, with a rumor circulating that the company will use your entire account against you in court. Not only your images, but your private messages, too. While the general public often falls for this, it’s even hitting celebrities, with Rob Lowe, Judd Apatow, Debra Messing and Rick Perry falling for the hoax.

Interestingly enough, this exact hoax initially spread on Instagram and Facebook in 2012. And for some reason, it’s making the rounds again.

Why these hoaxes recirculate

In today’s day and age, where there’s worry about companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple spying on you through personal assistants, browsing history and other means, users are on high alert. When those that aren’t “techie” see a warning like this, especially coming from a friend or person they follow, they’re more likely to believe it.

And thus the circulation begins.

Why companies (usually) won’t use your personal data against you

If a company was giving out personal information like private messages to advertising partners, there would be quite a bit of backlash. The platform would lose half their user base in an instant.

Companies have nothing to gain by selling your private information to third-parties.

What Facebook and Instagram have to say

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, came out immediately and debunked the hoax. And back in 2012, they said the same thing, reminding users of their policy in terms of the content they share on the popular platform:

“Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how the content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been.”

Simply put, you own your content. Not Facebook, not Instagram. And unless a legitimate warrant is issued for your social media data, your private conversations will continue to stay that way. Private.

Lead photo by on Unsplash