Instagram Says It Never Shares Precise User Location

Meta-owned Instagram has refuted a claim circulating widely online that the “precise location” feature on iOS and Android devices can share a user’s exact location with other Instagram users.

“We don’t share your location with other people,” said Instagram head Adam Mosseri.

The company responded to social media posts that began circulating widely last week urging users to turn of the precise location feature and claiming that criminals were using the feature to target people.

The posts claimed that if an Instagram user geotagged a post with a general area, such as a city, other users could nevertheless locate their exact address if the precise location feature was turned on.

Privacy feature

Some posts claimed the feature was included in a new iOS or Instagram update.

In reality the feature was first introduced in iOS 14 in 2020 and to Android in 2021, and was at the time considered a privacy feature.

It allows users to grant some apps access to their more exact location, using tools such as GPS.

Users can also grant an app access only to their general location, which relies on cellular tower data and other features, or can deny apps access to their location entirely.

The precise location setting is enabled by default when a user grants an app access to location data.

Personal data

Typically the feature is used for travel-related apps, such as mapping or ride hailing, or for recording the location at which a photo was taken.

Instagram said it uses location data for location tags and maps features and that precise location isn’t visible to other users.

“To be clear, we don’t share your location with others. Similar to other social media companies, we use precise location for things like location tags and maps features,” the company said in a statement.

Users with precise location switch on will, for instance, see options for locations nearer to them when they want to add a geotag to an Instagram Story or post.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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