Instagram bends to GDPR – a “download everything” tool is coming

Published April 13, 2018

Following criticism about lack of data portability – unlike parent Facebook, it doesn’t have a Download Your Data tool – Instagram now says it’s building a tool to let users download everything they’ve ever shared.

Everything, as in everything? We’re still waiting to hear details.

An Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch that the new tool – available “soon” – will enable users to download a copy of their photos, videos and messages. What’s not clear yet is if the tool will also enable users to export following and follower lists, Likes, comments, Stories, and the captions they put onto posts.

Nor was it clear what quality the downloadable photos and videos will have: will they export with the high resolution that they’re uploaded or displayed in, or will they come through compressed?

Hang tight, Instagram told TechCrunch: more details are coming soon.

We’ll share more details very soon when we actually launch the tool. But at a high level it allows you to download and export what you have shared on Instagram.

If the tool launches by 25 May, it will help Instagram to comply with the European Union’s upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy law, which requires data portability.

The new law requires that individuals be able to demand deletion of data, to opt out of future data collection, to view what personal data a company holds, and to download that data in a format that they can move to competitors.

Not that there’s a lack of tools to get data out of Instagram now. Digital Trends lists the tools and techniques that people have used to extract their Insta-goodies. But the third-party apps that get the job done aren’t necessarily safe, and there’s no guarantee they’ll play nice with your data or get everything. For one, you have to hand over not just your content, but also your Instagram login.

The Guardian suggests that we’ll be seeing a flurry of similar announcements as the clock ticks GDPR-ward. This is the first time we’ve heard from Instagram on the subject, but we heard plenty from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week when it comes to GDPR privacy tools.

On Wednesday, Zuckerberg told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the GDPR changes Facebook’s making will be made available to all users worldwide.

That goes not just for the same privacy controls, Zuckerberg said. Facebook will also provide the same European-level, GDPR-required data protections and disclosures to Americans.

Well, kinda. Maybe.

It was a clear “yes” when Rep. Gene Green asked the CEO if he would “commit today that Facebook will extend the same protections to Americans that Europeans will receive under the GDPR?”

But that “yes” was a bit more ambiguous during various points in the marathon questioning sessions.

When Rep. Janice Schakowsky asked if all the rights required under the GDPR will be applied to Americans as well, Zuckerberg reverted to describing privacy controls the company is adding.

Congresswoman, the GDPR has a bunch of different important pieces. One is offering controls over – that we’re doing. The second is around pushing for affirmative consent and putting a control in front of people that walks people through their choices. We’re going to do that, too… We’re going to put a tool at the top of people’s apps that walks them through their settings…

He was similarly ambiguous when testifying before the Senate. That just might have something to do with the big, bold letters on his crib sheet, which was photographed by the AP and which read:

GDPR (Don’t say we already do what the GDPR requires).


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