The head of Instagram has been forced to debunk a viral hoax that has been duping some of the platform’s most high-profile users.

A message that claims Instagram is about to introduce a new rule to its privacy policy was shared millions of times by clueless celebrities and continues to circulate across social media.

Those posting it warn that anyone who doesn’t share it will give anyone permission to use their photos, videos and messages posted to Instagram.

“Everything you’ve ever posted becomes public from today,” the post states. “Even messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed.”

Among those to fall for it were Julia Roberts, Pink, Rob Lowe, Usher and US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry – the person in charge of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri tried to warn people that the message was not real and that there would be no changes to the company’s policies regarding content ownership.

“Heads up!” he wrote on Instagram. “If you’re seeing a meme claiming that Instagram is changing its rules tomorrow, it’s not true.”

Instagram’s actual rules surrounding who owns the content posted to its app state that the Facebook-owned firm can actually use someone’s content however it likes, though it does not have full ownership of the pictures or videos.

The rules state that Instagram has a “non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and creative derivative works of your content”.

It is not the first time the hoax has spread across social media, with a version of it circulating on Facebook nearly a decade ago.

Its resurfacing has once again highlighted the dangers of social media when it comes to the spread of propaganda and misinformation across the internet.



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