Why is IG so creepy?
August 3, 2018 9:45 AM   Subscribe

How does instagram learn my contacts?

I'm very (or try to be) super privacy conscious (all the blockers, vpn, 1Password, 2fa with yubikey etc). The only social media account I have besides Twitter is Instagram. I don't have a FB account. My instagram does not have access to my address book. Yet somehow IG knows when I have a new contact. How does this happen?

example: I have not texted my hair dressed in 6 years. She is not even in my address book, my text to her is just in my imessage history and I find it using the topic she texted me about. I texted her last week to make an appt now that she has gone independent. Within a day IG suggests I follow her. How does it make the match? What else can I do (besides deleting my account) to prevent IG (and FB the company) from knowing who I message with?

I'm on a iPhone running 12
posted by special-k to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm pretty sure it's making the match from your hairdresser's information.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 9:47 AM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


> I'm pretty sure it's making the match from your hairdresser's information.

But she's not in my contacts (I texted her by entering her number) and IG supposedly does not have access to my contacts. So she likely gave full permission to IG to access her address book?
posted by special-k at 9:50 AM on August 3, 2018


So she likely gave full permission to IG to access her address book?

Yep. Instagram knows your phone number, and your hairdresser has her contacts matched with IG. So your hairdresser added you to her contacts, which then synced with Instagram, and then Instagram said "hey, someone over here says they know you, so you probably know them too!".
posted by brainmouse at 9:53 AM on August 3, 2018 [18 favorites]


Keep in mind that Instagram is owned by Facebook, so IG knows everything Facebook knows about everyone.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:02 AM on August 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


How Facebook Outs Sex Workers explains some of the techniques used by Facebook (and hence Instagram). There's related information in this article about Shadow Profiles.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 10:14 AM on August 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


Have you ever put in your telephone number for any sort of password recovery? Someone told me to do this with twitter and that's how it found out about me.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 10:44 AM on August 3, 2018


The big social-media big-data gotcha is that YOUR data hygiene isn't enough. You're exposed by how other people manage THEIR data. There's a you-shaped hole that can be interpolated.
posted by uberchet at 10:48 AM on August 3, 2018 [14 favorites]


Yes. I recently started therapy with a new dentist, sent them an email to confirm an appointment, and they immediately popped up on Facebook as "Somebody you might know". Embarrassing, because I assumed the same happened to them in reverse. There appears to be no way of stopping this stuff - now I just roll with it. (Although because my new dentist is an attractive young person of the opposite sex to mine, I immediately called them to say what had happened and assured them I had had nothing to do with this, and my apology was accepted.)
posted by aqsakal at 12:18 PM on August 3, 2018


There appears to be no way of stopping this stuff

The only way I know if is to have a disposable email address that you ONLY use for social media and you never email anyone from. So for me, it's socialmedia@mydomain.com and I literally use it only for Insta, Twitter, Bumble, etc. I never mail from it or give it out to anyone -- any email that comes to it is from those services. I don't even check the email, ever, unless I need to do a password reset or something.

Of course, it also means that you can't take advantage of it offering you connections that you may genuinely want to have. You'd have to add all your facebook friends and insta follows manually.

And NEVER give any of those services your phone number, regardless of how many times they ask or tell you it's for safety reasons.
posted by dobbs at 3:01 PM on August 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


Seconding what dobbs just said, but also on Instagram, once you have verified an email address then you can remove your phone number.
posted by Lanark at 3:06 PM on August 3, 2018


There appears to be no way of stopping this stuff

The way to stop it is government regulation of privacy, rather than depending on "privacy policies" which companies make up themselves and face no consequences for breaking. Or at least, government regulation should make sure there's the same degree of transparency and visibility into the activities of the wealthy and powerful—when the names of everyone's hairdressers and dentists is accessible we should not be stuck wondering whether a Prime Minister or President owns a business interest in a company transacting with the government or if they fund a particular political action group pushing an agenda.
posted by XMLicious at 12:07 PM on August 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


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