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How Did This Ridiculous Instagram Privacy Hoax Fool So Many Celebrities?

Send this to 5 people, or you’ll have bad luck for the next 7 years.

No, sharing a poorly-written, scaremongering message won't protect your privacy. 

Scrolling through Instagram last night, a feeling of panic occurred as a viral post made its way across social media claiming Instagram was changing its terms of service so users’ photos can be used against them in court.

The post in question is ridden with misspellings, font changes, general nonsense and looks like something your mother would share on Facebook. 

“Don’t forget tomorrow starts the new Instagram rule where they can use your photos. Don’t forget deadline today!!!” the message shrieked.

It can be used in court cases in litigation against you. Everything you’ve ever posted becomes public from today even messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed. It costs nothing for a simple copy and paste, better safe than sorry.

Hilariously, the text also insists that for it to be legally “valid”, it must be copied and pasted as text, not shared or screenshotted.

And while common sense makes it evident that this is nothing but a poorly-written, scaremongering internet prank, the image spread like wildfire last night - thanks to some rather credulous celebrities. 

Niall Horan, P!nk, Usher, Julianne Moore, Audrina Lima, Taraji P Henson, Rob Lowe and Julia Actual Roberts reposted it and even encouraged others to do the same.

But if this post looked familiar the first time you saw your favourite celebrity sharing it, that's because it first appeared on Facebook in 2012 - and has popped up several times since. This time, however, the hoax is clearly doctored, with the word ‘Instagram’ in a totally different font to the rest of the message, getting larger as it goes along.

If that and the misspellings aren't enough to convince you it’s a fake, maybe this statement from Instagram will: “There’s no truth to this post.”

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Most of the celebrities who initially posted the message have since deleted it after finding out it was a longrunning internet prank. But some celebrities did their research before posting the hoax to their followers. The Daily Show host Trevor Noah posted a cheeky response that made light of the viral message:

“Don’t forget today start the new day of a hoax people fall for on the internet” the comedian wrote, “If you want to stop this you must repost this message which is a real contract and you can tell it is very real because the grammar and spelling is perfect.” 

John Mayer also got in on the fun, taking a different angle, the musician gave Instagram permission to post content “as they see fit” which includes “Joe Camel fan fiction, Fight Club film flubs, Photographs of sinks, drawings of Jenga Jengison, his imaginary porn star made of wooden blocks, and woke magic tricks.”

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Whether you fell for it, rolled your eyes at it or poked fun, one thing is now clear, and that's how many of these celebs appear to run their own Instagrams. Bless.

Main image by @juliaroberts on Instagram

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