Some internet hoaxes are like the seasons. They predictably come back around, no matter how many times they’ve already been debunked. That’s exactly what happened Tuesday, when a smattering of high-profile celebrities and public figures with a collective following in the tens of millions were duped by an old Instagram myth. People like Martha Stewart and US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry posted a typo-ridden meme that claims a new rule is about to go into effect on the platform, which would supposedly allow Instagram to use your photos “in court cases in litigation against you.”
To be clear, no such rule exists. But that didn’t discourage the meme’s many famous posters, including Taraji Henson, Rob Lowe, Debra Messing, Shane Smith, Usher, Rita Wilson, and others. Some of them have since deleted their bogus posts.
Instagram did not immediately return a request for comment, but a spokesperson told Women’s Wear Daily Tuesday that “there’s no truth to this post.”
Versions of the hoax first began spreading on Instagram and Facebook in 2012, when the two social networks made adjustments to their terms of service. At the time, people worried the changes would allow the companies to do anything they wanted with their users’ content; the memes were meant as a Hail Mary attempt to stop that from happening. Facebook, which had acquired Instagram earlier that year, released a statement clarifying that “anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post.” But the hoax still continued to spread, and has bubbled up and subsequently been debunked nearly every year since.
Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show, took the meme’s resurfacing as an opportunity to make a joke, posting a parody of the hoax to his own Instagram account. “Instagram you are a bad boy, don’t use my message for your badness ok! I don’t allow you for this,” it reads. “Now I stop you because this was also on channel 13 news!”
“Thank you?” Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, wrote in a comment.
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social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #wired https://www.wired.com/story/instagram-copyright-hoax-returns