Can people see where you live when you use Instagram?

UPDATE: A couple of days after I wrote this, Instagram appeared to have updated things and this doesn't happen anymore. Still, if you value your privacy I do encourage you to be diligent with posting and geotagging, especially when posting from home.

Yes, yes they can.

So I noticed something different on Instagram last night -

Normally, you have the option of turning location sharing on or off and the locations nearby won't show up till you want to add a location so this seemed odd. I went into my settings and checked to see if any sort of location sharing on/off option was available - it's not. So I checked on the privacy policy and did a search for Geotagging and privacy and found this question. 

"We ask that you're mindful of which photos you add to your photo map since the precise locations of your photos an videos are visible to anyone who can see your posts.

If you've posted photos near your home or another location you'd prefer not to share, you can remove the location from those posts by removing them from your photo map.

Learn how to set your profile to private so that only people you approve can follow you and see your posts. Keep in mind that your photo map is completely optional, if you don't want to share your location, you don't have to."

Ok first? This was "edited 10 months ago?" I call shenanigans. I posted something in the morning yesterday and that first image I shared with the auto listing of locations was not the case. My app must have updated sometime later because I noticed this at 6pm last night. Second of all, the photo map is NOT optional, it is now on ALL the time and according to Instagram there's only two ways you can prevent people from seeing where you just posted from.

1) Set your profile to private. Not going to fly for me since I use this for work and networking.

2) Deleting from your photo map AFTER THE FACT. Which is the solution they provide you when you click "don't have to." Here's how:

  • Go to your profile like you're trying to view your whole timeline. Tap on the map icon (upside down teardrop with the dot in it). Zoom in till you find where you live on the map, it'll most likely have the largest number of images. 
  • Tap Edit at the top when you've found your collection of images. Tap on said collection then tap Edit again.
  • Deselect all. 
  • Done.

Now you're clear until the next time you post a picture. I propose a third solution:

3) Tag a location that is a map listing that's in your city (because you can't tag something that's not) and that will save as where you were when you posted. I'm not advocating this because it could mess things up for that business, but that's another work-around and you don't have to then go BACK an delete things. 

BTW, when you tap on "How do I stop adding photos to my map?" the answer has yet to be updated because you can't deselect anything, that's not an option anymore.

So there you are. If you're like me and you don't want to make your account private but want to keep your location private, you now have a couple of extra steps when posting. Someone asked me why this is happening and honestly, I couldn't present any facts that would make this feel less icky. At the end of the day, Instagram is a free service and this is what we get if we want to use it. Now, I'm only speculating but it's probably because Facebook wants to know where you are all the time for advertising and the creepiest type of market research ever. Again, I want to stress that this is just conjecture so just be aware of how you use your apps and be aware of the tiny changes that occur and you'll be fine.