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Let’s talk today about social media platforms.  We all use them either for personal reasons or for business reasons.  Some platforms perform better than others, depending on your intentions and who you are serving.

Recently Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and a few others have been updating their terms of service. 

Have you read your terms of service recently? In the Data Policy they say:

We collect the content, communications and other information you provide when you use our Products, including when you sign up for an account, create or share content, and message or communicate with others. This can include information in or about the content you provide (like metadata), such as the location of a photo or the date a file was created. It can also include what you see through features we provide, such as our camera, so we can do things like suggest masks and filters that you might like, or give you tips on using camera formats. Our systems automatically process content and communications you and others provide to analyze context and what’s in them for the purposes described below.”

But then they also mention a bunch of other things like:

  • Device hardware, battery level, signal strength, browser types
  • Whether apps you’re using are in the foreground or background
  • Information about wi-fi points nearby you, Bluetooth connections, and nearby cell towers.
  • Information received through GPS location, camera, and photos

Yikes, right?

So I did a little test…

I wanted to know if it was captive to their own app as they say it is or if they are tapping into my texts, calls, and emails as I suspect they are. I went into my phone apps settings (under the gear icon for android users) and I force closed every single app that I was allowed to force close including my text app, my camera, and my GPS location. 

(These three in particular are native to the phone manufacturer and not a third party organization). 

Then I went and opened the Instagram app on my phone. 

This is really important: I DID NOTHING! No post, no like, no comment, no opening of my messages in the app, nothing. I closed the app and went back into my settings. Do you know what I found? 

My camera was activated, my GPS was activated, and my texting app was activated. But I just force closed these and opened nothing but Instagram. 

Conclusion: Parts of their data policy terms make it sound like what’s being accessed is limited to functions necessary to make actions on their apps work, but both from this quick test as well as the other nebulous language in the Data Policy make it sound like their reach extends far beyond that.

WHY am I telling you this?

As a HIPAA certified and compliant organization I feel it is my job to inform you that if you are a HIPAA/Medical provider who has to follow HIPAA regulations, and you communicate with your patients on the same device as your Facebook apps or Instagram apps, you are now in automatic violation by way of the nature of those apps and what they actually access.

With that said I have shifted my time, energy and attention to a few different social media tools that have not had HIPAA violations in their terms and conditions and data policies. One of which is Email! That is why it is so long today. The other… 

I have found a new respect and appreciation for LinkedIn.  Have you seen some of my latest posts? I included one below for your pleasure!