There was a lot of happy noise about Instagram’s decision to finally allow its users to have web-based profiles. But the decision to switch from an in-app profile page to one hosted on the larger web has brought with it yet another concern: privacy.
Previously, the ‘only’ people who could see your Instagram photos (if your profile wasn’t set to private) were the 100-million or so other Android and iOS users who used the explore function in the app to find your images or the search option to track down your username. While you can share images from the app to social media sites, your photos were still only visible to those with the link and were relatively protected on the open web by your Facebook and Twitter privacy settings, for example. Now all anyone has to do to access your entire photo history on one page is pop along to www.instagram.com/yourusername.
While third party services like Webstagram have made accessing Instagram images on the web possible for a while, the new profiles have made it even easier to track down a dedicated web page and locate your photo feed. The retro photography service hasn’t instituted a more tailored privacy system that can be customised for certain groups (like Facebook’s can), so for now the only option for users is to set their profiles to private (which will only allow approved followers to view their images) or stick to the default public option.
As Gizmodo points out, you can easily toggle your privacy settings in your profile settings menu, if you’re concerned about who can see your photos. Your geo-tagged photo map is not available on your web profile, so no one can publicly access where you’ve visited and uploaded images from. Exactly who you’re following (and who is following you) isn’t publicly accessible. But, as Instagram explains, your bio and profile image are public, unless you remove them.