Social Media

‘You Just Never Know Who’s Watching:’ Instagram Users Panic Over False Location-Tracking Rumors

Instagram users are feverishly changing their location settings after a meme falsely claiming that the app is tracking their locations for ill intent went viral.

With the word “IMPORTANT” written at the top in red text, the graphic, shared by influencer marketing firm Goal Digger Coaching, warned, “Since a new update, people can find your EXACT location from Instagram and this is being used by individuals to target people to commit crimes including theft, stalking, etc.” It continued, “Please make sure ‘precise location’ is turned off. You can do this by going to your phone settings, Instagram, location & then make sure precise location is turned OFF.”

The post sent people into a panic, with one user tweeting, “Please turn your precise location off on Instagram. That is so scary! Even if you think it’s off, double-check. Mine was on and I had no idea.” Another said, “Instagram is wilding with the Precise Location though! If you can please turn that [s–t] off, people are crazy out here and you just never know who’s watching [your] whereabouts.”

However, Instagram’s “precise location” feature, which does allow apps to use your location data, is nothing new and was introduced in 2020 with iOS 14, per PC Mag. Google also implemented the with its Android 12 update. Following the initial launch, several updates have allowed users to control these settings, with iOS 15.6.1 giving users the option to track their location “Never, Ask Next Time or When I Share, While Using the App or Always.” Precise location is activated by default, but for people who select “Never” and turn the setting off, “apps can only determine your approximate location.”

Although the precise location feature is helpful for apps that connect you to local resources, Instagram denied the claim that this data is being used or given to others.

“We’ve seen a meme going around about how Instagram uses ‘precise location,'” Instagram Comms, the official handle of Instagram’s PR team, tweeted on August 25. “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,” it added in another tweet. “People can manage Location Services via their device settings, and tag locations on their posts if they want to share that information.”

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