Trusted Marketing Partner of Instagram Caught Tracking Millions of Users

We are living in a post internet era, and in this era people are starting to become increasingly aware of just how common it is for tech companies to take advantage of the wild abandon with which people tend to use the internet, as well as to use unscrupulous practices to acquire information that would allow them to market to you more efficiently.

The latest scandal that is going around is one that might just implicate Facebook and Instagram even more than they are already in the unethical usage of data that is widespread throughout the internet.

A company by the name of Hyp3r has been a marketing partner of Instagram and Facebook for quite some time now, and it was recently revealed that Hyp3r has been tracking the location of Instagram and Facebook users in order to target them with advertising that is location specific.
"Hyp3r systematically saved users' public Instagram stories (a type of content designed to vanish after 24 hours) including the individual photos that users shared in the stories, in a clear violation of Instagram's terms of service."
For example, if you went to a baseball game and there was a company out there that wanted to market to baseball fans, Hyp3r would scrape your location data through your Instagram or Facebook posts and then create targeted ads for you.

This is a rather mundane example of something that can start to become a serious issue, and in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal Instagram and Facebook implemented policies that were meant to prevent marketing companies from scraping data in this manner, and this did result in Hyp3r going through some financial difficulties for some time.

However, it seems like the company managed to see a resurgence and this might just be because of the fact that the measures taken by Instagram and Facebook to prevent location scraping were not good enough to actually prevent companies from doing so as can be seen in the case of Hyp3r.

Business Insider recently did a report on how Hyp3r was violating privacy policies by scraping location data in the manner that it was doing, and after this report Hyp3r was no longer included as a marketing partner for both of the social media platforms.

Instagram acknowledged that Hyp3r was violating its privacy policies, but the fact that it had been doing so for so many years shows that either Instagram and Facebook were complicit in these privacy violations or they were just too incompetent to actually address the issue, both of which are pretty serious problems that will cause a lot of mistrust among users, something that has already been happening after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Information like this puts the recent FTC fine levied against Facebook into perspective, and shows that there is a lot of work that still needs to be done in order to protect the rights of internet users against unscrupulous companies and the fact that they are trying to acquire information that they have no right to possess and that they could end up doing a lot of harm with if it ends up in their hands.

Read next: Facebook is working on reading our minds and why is no one batting eye on the privacy risks?
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