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Instagram’s “precise location” setting is used for optional location tags and map features, the company said. A location is not revealed to others unless users voluntarily tag the content with that information.
Location services on Instagram are not new or part of an update. They were already installed on iPhones by Apple in 2020 and Androids by Google in 2021.
Sometimes, Instagram users tout their whereabouts — look, everyone, I’m at the beach! — and use location tags to signal precisely where they are. But a viral, unfounded claim said the app is unwittingly using a particular location setting to help criminals target victims.
"Since a new update, people can find your EXACT location from Instagram and this is being used by individuals to target people to commit crimes including theft, stalking etc.," an Aug. 25 post read. It warned users to turn off their phones’ "precise location" settings.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its platforms. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Can just anyone discern your exact location using a single Instagram setting, even if you don’t want it revealed? No.
"We don’t share your location with others," Instagram said in a post on the app on Aug. 26. "Similar to other social media companies, we use the precise location for things like location tags and maps features. People can manage Location Services via their device settings, and tag locations on their posts if they want to share that information."
Users have the option to turn off the location setting on their phones. Some apps do require your precise location, though — so if you turn off location services, your ride-share or pizza order might not be able to reach you.
Contrary to the claim, "precise location" isn’t a new feature from Instagram. It was already included in phone systems from both Apple, which unveiled the setting in 2020, and Android, which did the same in 2021.
Precise location gives users more control over which apps have access to their whereabouts, according to an Aug. 12, 2020, story by 9to5, a daily news site about Apple.
"A lot of apps don’t actually need such precise location information, and iOS 14 offers that flexibility, including asking the user upfront in the permissions dialog," the story said. The setting works the same for Android phones.
An Instagram post claimed that Instagram’s "precise location" feature can be used by criminals to target victims.
Instagram uses location settings for tags and map features. But the app won’t share precise locations or addresses unless users opt to do so.
We rate this claim False.
Instagram post, Aug. 25, 2022
Instagram statement, Aug. 26, 2022
9to5Mac, "iOS 14 lets users grant approximate location access for apps that don’t require exact GPS tracking," Aug. 12, 2020
Android Central, "What’s the difference between precise and approximate location in Android 12?" May 25, 2021
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