Celebrities Fall Prey to Viral Instagram Hoax, Quickly Recant
“Deadline today!! It can be used in court cases against you.”
These were the first lines of text on the blurry screenshot shared by thousands of Instagram users over the past few days- as well as major artists, celebrities, entertainers, and even politicians including Julia Roberts, Usher, Pink, Rob Lowe, Judd Apatow, Debra Messing, and even Texas Governor Rick Perry (who now serves as the current United States Secretary of Energy).
The screenshot, which vaguely referenced a Channel 13 (without mentioning city or station call letters) was meant to serve as a ubiquitous warning against the social media platform using users private photos for nefarious purposes.
Except the screenshot was completely fake and in no way overrides any end-user agreements between Instagram and its registered users.
While most celebrities and users quickly and quietly removed the photo after realizing it was a hoax, other celebrities took the opportunity to make fun of those who had fallen for the prank with comedian Trevor Noah writing, “Instagram you are a bad boy, don’t use my message for your badness ok! Now I stop you because this was also on channel 13 news!” Meanwhile, John Mayer jokingly gave Instagram permission to sell all of his digital content, including his “world famous meatloaf recipes.”
While Instagram told CNN Business “there is no truth” to the viral meme, the company (along with parent company Facebook) has come under fire in recent months for purported data and privacy breaches as well as spreading misinformation about vaccines and allowing hate speech and harassment.
in response to these accusations, both Instagram and Facebook have taken steps to rebuild user trust. Last week, Instagram announced a new feature that will allegedly help users report Instagram posts that contain fake news or misinformation while Facebook unveiled a new tool that allows users to manage what personal data apps and websites collect on them and share with Facebook.