What is actually in the Instagram Terms of Service in 2021?

Ki James
September 17th, 2021

Whenever we make social media accounts, we tend to skip past the terms of service. We’re required to check the box to say we read it, but very few people could tell you anything specific about what they’re actually agreeing to.

We’re going to go through each set of points, and give a summary over what they stipulate.

Service Goals

Instagram first lays out what their platform is made for. It’s mostly full of platitudes about connectivity, sharing, and community building; however, at the end, Instagram states that, “We use the information we have to study our Service and collaborate with others.”

This explicitly states that Instagram is harvesting and using your data. If you agree to the terms of service, you are giving the platform a huge range of powers over hugely consequential and sensitive personal information.


This part says that they make their money from advertising. More than just pumping random ads, though, they say that, “We use your personal data, such as information about your activity and interests, to show you ads that are more relevant to you.”

This sounds like it could be just internal to Facebook, but they go on to say, “We also provide advertisers with reports about the performance of their ads to help them understand how people are interacting with their content on and off Instagram.” This is, again, very alarming. They claim that they don’t give any “identifying” information, but such volume and granularity is already bad enough on its own.

User Base restrictions

This is a small section outlining what kind of people aren’t allowed on the platform. This includes people under the age of 13, banned users, people who live in countries with legal restrictions against Instagram, and people convicted of sexual assault.

Content restrictions

Next, there’s a section about all the kinds of banned content. This includes impersonation, misinformation, or illegal activity. There’s more, but these are the highlights.

Permissions and Rights

Instagram then outlines your and their rights. Here’s a bulleted list of the most important takeaways.

  • They have the license to use any content you post
  • They can use your username and likeness in ads
  • They can change your username at will
  • They aren’t liable for any monetary harm done to you as a result of them enforcing their policies
  • They aren’t liable for things people say to you on their platform
  • Instagram reserves all rights not expressly granted to you

That last clause is particularly frightening, and should always be kept in mind before taking any kind of dispute to Instagram.

Handling breaches in policy

Finally, Instagram outlines how any disputes will be handled and appealed. The most important thing to note here is that they do not permit class action lawsuits, and only allow individual litigation. This decreases the amount of power consumers have dramatically, and gives Instagram even more free reign.


Agreeing to the Terms of Service may only take a few seconds, but you empower Instagram with a tremendous amount of power over you and your data. In addition to this wide range of powers, you aren’t allowed to coordinate lawsuits against them with your peers, or vie for rights that aren’t already given.

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