The video by @PlantbasedOmnivore was reposted (archived here) by the verified Instagram account of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on December 19, 2020, with this caption:
Starting tomorrow, Instagram's new cyber surveillance policies allow Mark Zuckerberg to spy on you and your family, steal your most intimate secrets and monitor your compliance with government mandates through all your devices -- including your television -- and sell your data to government and industry or punish you for disobedience. Video by @PlantBasedOmnivore
Here is what the post with the video looked like at the time of writing:
Some of the things that she refers to as 'data security breaches' are designed to protect the platform and its users by detecting fraud and spam. Knowing which other accounts are used on the same device helps detect spam accounts or helps to find out the real identity behind fraudulent accounts. Metadata like the GPS location can add location captions to pictures and this can be turned off by the user in their settings. This type of information can also show who liked a post, and allow video streaming to other devices.
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'Masks,' not masks
Only one minute into the video, a big misunderstanding is revealed. The narrator reads from Instagram's Data Policy and interjects her own comments as she goes along:
... It can also include what you see through features we provide, such as our camera...
So- whatever they are seeing from the camera that you use on Instagram, they are tracking and recording. OK?
...so we can do things like suggest masks and filters that you might like...
So- if I'm recording this and I am in a sea of people and I'm not wearing a mask, and everybody else is- They can be like, "Hey Kathryn- You need to put a mask on!" So you are going to be getting those kinds of notifications now through your IG app.
...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... (video cut: purposes described below.)
Source: Instagram Screenshot 12/21/2020 AR Mask example by @Catchar.io
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The post by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. increased the viral spread of the video to his anti-vaccine and mask-skeptical followers.
Madonna made her own video from her dressing room, reading the caption from Robert F. Kennedy's post, and finishing with her own comments:
This is scary s***. The dictatorship had begun. Beware. I feel sick.
Instagram's PR team posted this announcement to their Twitter account:
It looks like our terms update is causing some confusion - there are claims floating around that our policies are changing to allow us to spy on people, but this isn't true. We're only making changes to help explain our terms more clearly and keep our community informed.-- Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) December 20, 2020
The PR team posted this clarification about sex workers a few days earlier:
Review Instagram's policies
Lead Stories recently published a fact checking article about another false claim: that Instagram's updates were going to result in the deletion of all Fan Page Accounts.
(Editors' Note: Facebook, which owns Instagram, is a client of Lead Stories, which is a third-party fact checker for the social media platform. On our About page, you will find the following information:
Since February 2019 we are actively part of Facebook's partnership with third party fact checkers. Under the terms of this partnership we get access to listings of content that has been flagged as potentially false by Facebook's systems or its users and we can decide independently if we want to fact check it or not. In addition to this we can enter our fact checks into a tool provided by Facebook and Facebook then uses our data to help slow down the spread of false information on its platform. Facebook pays us to perform this service for them but they have no say or influence over what we fact check or what our conclusions are, nor do they want to.)