‘IMPORTANT’ in big, red letters, read an Instagram post shared by influencer marketing company Goal Digger Coaching late last week.
The post went on to say that Instagram was tracking your exact location, and that the info was being used by individuals who were committing crimes, including theft and stalking. It was finished by warning users to make sure their ‘precise location’ was turned off.
Since its sharing, the post has been shared countless times, and other users have hopped on to add to it. They’re saying it’s all caused by a new iOS or Instagram update.
So, is all that true? What’s Instagram got to say about it? And should we be turning off our ‘precise location’?
Turns out, ‘precise location’ isn’t just unique to Instagram — it’s actually a mobile operating system feature all apps can use. It was rolled out by Apple in its operating system update, iOS 14, in 2020. Google soon followed suit, adding it to Android 12 in 2021.
“This year, we’re continuing to give you even more control. In addition to the option of sharing your precise location, you’ll have the option to only share your approximate location with apps,” Apple said during a developer conference in 2020.
When turned on, it gives the app permission to pinpoint a user’s exact location using GPS — for varying reasons. Interestingly, some apps showed the ‘precise location’ toggle, and others, like TikTok, don’t, so it’s unclear whether they use the feature or not — and why that is.
Instagram responded quickly, saying they’d seen a meme about how it uses ‘precise location’.
“To be clear, we don’t share your location with others,” they wrote.
“Similar to other social media companies, we use precise location for things like location tags and maps features. It also suggests that people can customise their own location settings, and tag locations on the posts they’ve shared only if they want to do so. People can manage Location Services via their device settings, and tag locations on their posts if they want to share that information.”
👋 We’ve seen a meme going around about how Instagram uses “precise location.”
— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) August 25, 2022
Cool, so what if you do just want to switch it off?
You’ll have to switch it off individually for each app — the default setting is on. Also, keep in mind that some apps like Uber and Deliveroo need it for the app to be able to do its job.
For iOS, head to Settings, then Privacy and Location Services. You’ll use all your apps listed there. Go to Instagram and you’ll see the ‘precise location’ toggle. The other way to get to it is to go to Settings and then scroll down to Instagram and tap Location.