Internet Security News & Views

Instagram – What is it, what does it do? – Your non-tech guide to Instagram and Security risks involved

You have probably heard about Instagram – But what is it? (A “Newbies” Guide to Instagram)

Your Quick and Easy Guide to Instagram

Instagram is one of the most popular photo sharing apps there is with around 90 million active users per month uploading almost 40 million photos per day. So just why is it so popular? What does it offer that other photo sharing apps don’t?

Well the real key to its success lies in its simplicity. Instagram is extremely user friendly, meaning that even celebrities can figure out how to edit and upload snaps of themselves! It’s fun, quick and allows users to connect with each other. You can also link it to other social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Of course the other big pull factor is that it’s free to use.


How does Instagram Work?

You can download Instagram from the App Store on your iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android device. You will have to set up an account with a username and password. Instragram will then ask if you want to link your account with Facebook which will discover if any of your Facebook friends are users so that you can follow them. This is optional and you can just sign up without linking your account to anything.

The user interface is incredibly easy to navigate. There are 5 main tabs at the bottom:

  • Home Tab

Shows your feed which includes updates from the people you follow.

  • Popular Tab

Shows the photos which are currently trending on Instagram.

  • Camera Tab

Allows you to either take a photo or choose one saved on your device. You can also edit and apply filters here.

  • News Tab

Gives you an update on any activity on your account as well as the activity of those you are following.

  • Profile Tab

Edit your account information, find friends, change your privacy settings, etc.


Instagram Photo Filters and Effects

Instagram is also popular because with a few easy steps you can turn your amateur snaps into something pretty awesome all thanks to a few simple filters.

Once you have taken or uploaded a photo from your mobile device you will be presented with a set of choices. The first is to move and scale your photo (image sizes are based on the old Polaroid image so they are cropped to be square). After this you will see a number of icons.

Using the top icons you can add a border, rotate your image or apply tilt-shift effects (focusing in on a certain point in your image).

At the bottom you have a set of filters such as Normal, Amaro, Rise and Hudson. They each add a special effect to your photo which is illustrated by the tree image. The Lux icon will adjust the brightness and contrast of your image.

Once you are happy with the changes, click on the green tick. Now you can add your caption and location.

Instagram Security Risks

There were concerns over privacy with the acquisition of Instagram by Facebook and their new terms of service which seemed to imply that images could be sold onto advertisers. Those terms have now been re-written yet there still appears to be a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude to some privacy issues. The rules regarding under 18s also appear to be quite lax, with the terms merely asserting that under 18s should get their parents or legal guardian to agree to the terms.

Instagram Tip: Use hashtags in the caption of your photo or in the comments to group your photo with similar images.

Latest news stories involving Instagram:

“IInstagram and Facebook spark hacking fears with security blitz demanding users send in a copy of their ‘Government ID’

  • Angry users flood message boards after being locked out of their accounts and receiving notification they had to submit ID which they presume was a scam
  • Facebook spokesman confirms yesterday it was an official request and it can require ID if a user is suspected of violating terms of service
  •  Many left frustrated as site fails to respond to emails or refuses to accept ID put forward

Read more: Daily Mail

Cnet Reports: “Instagram account crackdown spreads panic, fear of hacking” 

“One person reached out to me Saturday morning after his 12-year-old son was locked out of his account. The son, the contact said, was in tears over losing access to Instagram. The father’s experience echoes those of forum participants, many of whom noted that their children were being asked to upload photo IDs to verify their birthdates.

It’s unclear whether the uptick in secured accounts represents an active effort on Facebook’s part to crack down on underage users. As a public company, Facebook has the burden of ensuring that it maintains a verifiable 13-and-up user base. Instagram, like Facebook, requires that its users are at least 13, though that hasn’t stopped tweens and teens from turning to the photo-sharing property as a mostly parents-free place to connect with their middle school- and high school-aged peers.”

We can only conclude that we live in an era where people of all ages take part in communicating, commenting, sharing ideas, videos, pictures with friends and strangers alike online.  As users of this digital universe that is open to us, we need to stay informed, we need to educate ourselves and our children but most importantly we need to be aware of any security risks, privacy breaches and misuse.

-The Omniquad Team

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