Instagram said it will launch a new data-portability tool — which will let users download all the content they’ve ever shared on the service — after the data-privacy practices of its parent Facebook have been the subject of intense scrutiny over the last several weeks.
“We are building a new data portability tool,” an Instagram spokesman said. “You’ll soon be able to download a copy of what you’ve shared on Instagram, including your photos, videos and messages.” He didn’t provide a timeline for when the feature is expected to be introduced. Instagram’s plans for the new tool were first reported by TechCrunch.
Facebook has provided the ability for users to download a copy of the info and content they share on the service since 2010. Instagram has largely escaped the controversies that have bedeviled Facebook over privacy, “fake news,” and election interference thanks mainly to Instagram’s design as a visual-first social media app.
Instagram confirmed the plans to add the data-downloading feature a little more than a month before Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation goes into effect, on May 25. Among other things, the GDPR will require that users have the option to access to a full archive of data they have shared with a provider.
Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion, back when Instagram had just 30 million users. Instagram currently has more than 800 million monthly users, a base that skews younger than Facebook.
This week, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg testified before Senate and House committee hearings, each lasting around five hours. The impetus for the hearings, which didn’t yield much new information, was the scandal over political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica getting hold of data on tens of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge or consent.
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica revelations, Charles Porch, Instagram’s global head of creative programs, said at the Variety Massive Summit last month that across the entire company, employees were “horrified at the idea that someone would misuse data.”
“What I will say, and I think this goes across all the platforms, protecting data and privacy across our platforms is our number one priority,” Porch said.