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Advertising experiment shows Instagram’s personal data collection is 100% for their benefit, not yours

After Instagram (and Facebook) recently put out notifications in the app stating that they wanted access to your data to “Help keep Instagram free of charge“, I stumbled across an experiment by the folks over at Signal. Now, Signal is obviously a competitor to Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp – at least as far as their […]

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You now have a dedicated spot for your gender pronouns on Instagram

If you want to make it simpler for people to address you by your chosen pronouns, Instagram is working on making this easier. The platform has just introduced a dedicated field that lets you add the pronouns of your choice. Instagram has announced the new feature on Twitter, sharing relatively vague information about it. “The […]

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Woman Arrested for Posing as High Schooler To Get Instagram Followers

A Florida woman, and former police officer, was arrested on a litany of charges after allegedly sneaking into a high school and posing as a student in an attempt to gain Instagram followers.

28-year-old Audrey Nicole Francisquini was arrested after she allegedly snuck onto the campus of American Senior High School in Hialeah, Florida. She was initially able to “blend in” with the students because, according to Law and Crime and Local 10 News, she wore a backpack and carried a skateboard in one hand and a painting in the other.

While on campus, she allegedly passed out paper fliers with her Instagram handle printed on them and asked students to follow her. When a security guard approached her the first time, she said she was simply looking for the registration office. After receiving those directions, however, she allegedly walked past the office door and continued passing out fliers and “harassing students” with follow asks. She was approached a second time by school security who she this time ignored and was then branded as a “potential threat” and the police were called.

As Fstoppers notes, she ignored school security guards and police instructions to stop and fled the premises, but officers later used her social media information to match her description with her driver’s license and address. She was then arrested at her home in Miami Beach.

“I legit have I don’t know how many cops outside right now of my house,” Francisquini reportedly said in her final Instagram story before she was taken into custody. Her Instagram account is now private. “I’m not going outside at all.”

“This is an unfortunate incident involving a female who trespassed on school grounds under false pretenses,” Miami-Dade County Public Schools spokesperson Jaquelyn Calzadilla said. “As always, Miami-Dade County Public Schools will continue to work tirelessly to protect the safety and well-being of our students and employees.”

In 2017, Francisquini was charged with violating a revenge porn statute after allegedly stealing and posting nude images of another officer for which she was placed on administrative leave and then fired.

As of publication, Francisquini has been ordered to stay away from the high school and has been charged on three counts: one for burglary of an occupied dwelling with a bond of $15,000, one for trespassing an educational institution/interference with a bond of $500, and one for resisting an officer without violence to his person with a bond of $1,000.

44 State AGs Call on Facebook to Abandon Instagram for Kids

In early March, a report alleged that Facebook was working on a version of Instagram designed specifically for children. In the two months since, the company has faced repeated pressure to abandon the program, the latest comes from a swath of State Attorneys General (AG).

As noted by Engadget, the AGs allege that social media in general is harmful to the emotional and mental well-being of children and that building a platform that specifically targets them would worsen the cyberbullying problems that already plague youths.

“Without a doubt, this is a dangerous idea that risks the safety of our children and puts them directly in harm’s way,” said Attorney General Letitia James of New York. “Not only is social media an influential tool that can be detrimental to children who are not of appropriate age, but this plan could place children directly in the paths of predators. There are too many concerns to let Facebook move forward with this ill-conceived idea, which is why we are calling on the company to abandon its launch of Instagram Kids. We must continue to ensure the health and wellness of our next generation and beyond.”

The letter is signed by the AGs of Massachusetts, Nebraska, Vermont, Tennessee, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

“The attorneys general have an interest in protecting our youngest citizens, and Facebook’s plans to create a platform where kids under the age of 13 are encouraged to share content online is contrary to that interest. Use of social media can be detrimental to the health and well-being of children, who are not equipped to navigate the challenges of having a social media account.” the letter reads. “The attorneys general urge Facebook to abandon these plans.”

The letter also states that Facebook has historically failed to protect the welfare of children on its existing platforms, a statement that echos previous notes from U.S. Senators and 35 Children’s and Consumer groups.

The AGs express various other concerns over Facebook’s Instagram for Kids proposal, including that the platform could be used by predators to target children and that children lack the capacity to navigate the complexities of what they encounter online, such as advertising, inappropriate content, and relationships with strangers.

“It appears that Facebook is not responding to a need, but instead creating one, as this platform appeals primarily to children who otherwise do not or would not have an Instagram account. In short, an Instagram platform for young children is harmful for myriad reasons. The attorneys general urge Facebook to abandon its plans to launch this new platform,” the letter concludes.

With this letter, 83 total public figures and organizations have come out against Facebook’s plan to make a version of Instagram for kids including four U.S. Senators.

“We’re early in thinking through how this service would work,” Zuckerberg said in a congressional hearing on social media disinformation in March and noted by Mashable. “There is clearly a large number of people under the age of 13 who would want to use a service like Instagram… Helping people stay connected with friends and learn about different content online is broadly positive.”

When asked about concerns parents and groups have with how Facebook and Instagram handle social media addiction, bullying, and the effect on mental health posted by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), Zuckerberg simply responded, “Congresswoman, I’m aware of the issues.”

“The problem is that you know it,” Castor said in response. “You know that the brain and social development of our kids is still evolving at a young age. There are reasons in the law that we set that [13-year-old age limit] because these platforms have ignored it. They’ve profited off of it. We’re going to strengthen the law.”


Image credits: Photos licensed via Depositphotos.

Photographer Asks Strangers What They Wanted to Say But Never Did

For the past year and a half, photographer Geloy Concepcion has been working on a project titled “Things You Wanted To Say But Never Did.” It consists of images featuring words strangers have wanted to communicate but have never done so with anyone.

“I started this project back in November 2019 to provide a safe place for the things we find hard to confront when we’re alone,” writes Concepcion, who’s based in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Things that we wanted to voice out but couldn’t, because we lack the courage to do so, because we might sound crazy, because it’s too late, or because we might hurt someone.

“We put it out here with the hope that someone going through the same thing will read them and feel less lonely even just for a day.”

The project is published through Concepcion’s Instagram account, which boasts 70,000 followers at the time of this writing. In each gallery post containing several submissions, Concepcion asks anyone interested in participating to send their submission through an online form.

In addition to words, Concepcion asks strangers for photos to go along with them.

“If you have any photographs (preferably shot on film 35mm) that you’ve always wanted to dispose or show,” Concepcion writes on the form, “photos that you think are not that beautiful or not that interesting, blurred, out of focus, accidentally shot, too over or under exposed, etc. Photographs with memories that you’ve always wanted to forget or let go or remember (No human faces visible), send them to me.”

Concepcion tells NPR’s The Picture Show that he started his project after moving to the SF area from the Philippines in 2018 and suddenly finding himself taking care of his daughter (while his wife worked at a local cafe) with very little time to satisfy his passion for photography.

The photographer then decided to turn inward, sharing his own “unsaid things” first before opening up the project to all his followers. Since then he has posted over 1,000 submissions of the 6,000+ he has received thus far.

“At first I was just using my photos, because the main purpose of the project was to just offload old photos,” Concepcion tells NPR. “But then I started to realize that the project had become more of the strangers’ project than mine, you know? I think they really own the project.”

#thingsyouwantedtosaybutneverdid is reminiscent of PostSecret, which was founded in 2005 and asked people to mail in their secrets anonymously on homemade postcards.

Concepcion is planning to add to the project until submissions stop coming in. You can follow along through @geloyconcepcion on Instagram.

Instagram wants you to turn on data tracking to keep it “free of charge”

Well, this is kind of a surprise, but also not. It’s not surprising that Instagram (and Facebook) would be capable of trying something like this, but it’s a bit of a surprise that they actually went through with it. According to a new iOS 14.5 notice in the Instagram and Apps users are promoted to […]

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Instagram Adds Auto-Caption Feature to Stories, Will Soon Add to Reels

Instagram has announced that it is rolling out an auto-captioning feature to Stories that will allow English-speaking users to add auto-generated captions to videos via an announcement on Twitter.

Following in the footsteps of TikTok who recently added the same feature to its platform, Engadget reports that Instagram will now allow users to enjoy content with or without audio. The feature is especially helpful to the hearing impaired, such as those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Additionally, it’s a nice feature for those who want to pass the time in the app but may not be in an environment where having audio play is desired or socially acceptable.

The same can be said for Instagram’s implementation here. The captions are auto-generated by the app, but users can edit them before publishing the Story to fix any spelling or punctuation issues to better reflect what is being said. Once the captions are generated, users can also adjust the style and color of the text.

According to Instagram, the feature is launching in Stories but will come to Reels next, and soon.

“Now you can add a captions sticker in Stories (coming soon to Reels) that automatically turns what you say into text,” the company writes. “We’re starting in a handful of countries and hope to expand soon.”

Instagram initially tested this feature in early March and as Engadget reported, it came as accessibility features were becoming more common across multiple platforms including YouTube, and are expected to come to Zoom and Twitter. However, the early version of auto-cations wasn’t available to the public and was only being tested in closed groups.

Below is an initial tweet from March 9 posted by Matt Navarra, a social media consultant, who demonstrated the feature.

Auto captions will be available to English-speaking users starting today with support for more languages and additional countries coming soon.

Is the content on your Instagram feed food or poison?

How many times have you heard or said that Instagram is toxic and full of meaningless content? In fact, it kinda is, but is it the only kind of content you’ll find there? Today I want to talk to you briefly about your Instagram feed and whether it’s food or poison for your mind. Because […]

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