Generation Hoax: Did you fall for it?

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new…Instagram hoax.

Since the dawn of the internet, users (corporations and bored individuals alike) have used the web to draw attention to issues, causes, or outright outlandish things through hoaxes. From the Montauk Monster to the Blair Witch Project, the internet has proven its capability to inform, entertain, or wreak havoc whenever it so desires. How they happen? While some posts are created with the intention of generating attention, others start as jokes that just happens to go viral.

Recently, Instagram was graced with a hoax that blew up in hours.

These hoaxes often pertain to user policy and this time was no different. Users shared a post that warned of an alleged change to Instagram’s terms of service that would grant Instagram access to personal information. Many users shared the post because of a line that stated “I do not give Instagram…permission to use my pictures, information, messages, or posts,” which offered these concerned and gullible users a bit of comfort.

This hoax surprisingly generated a huge amount of celebrity engagement. Participants in the panic included Robert Lowe, Julianne Moore, and Scooter Braun. Their posts inspired others who trust and rely on these macro influencers to deliver reliable information to go even crazier.

Instagram’s head, Adam Mosseri quickly squashed the rumors about Instagram’s policy change.
The takeaway? In 2012, an almost identical hoax occurred on Facebook and sent users into a total tizzy, which tells us that in the seven years that have passed since, users remain unfamiliar with user privacy, their own rights, and what exactly it means to press “post.” Although this particular hoax did not generate too much harm, false information can be incredibly dangerous and the fear that comes with it can be destructive.

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