Facebook Twitter Tumblr Close Skip to main content
A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Instagram Hoax Nabs Rick Perry

Quick Take

A thoroughly debunked hoax claiming that Instagram users can stop the platform from using their pictures if they post a statement rescinding permission has been circulating again. This time, it ensnared a member of the Trump administration.

Full Story

Some hoaxes are built to last. And one such monument to digital deception has had a resurgence recently, duping several high-profile figures including Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

The hoax dates back to at least 2012, when the myth-busting site Snopes first debunked it. Then there was a comeback in 2015 and 2016, when the Los Angeles Times and the Guardian wrote about it. And now, again, it’s circulating widely on social media.

The claim warns Instagram users that the platform will be implementing a new “rule” allowing the social network to “use your photos.” It tells users that if they post a statement rescinding permission, the supposed “rule” won’t apply to them.

But Instagram already has the right to “use” photos uploaded to the site. The “terms of use” for Instagram state, in part: “[W]hen you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights (like photos or videos) on or in connection with our Service, you hereby grant to us a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings).”

Asked if posting an opt-out statement would have any effect on the site’s “terms of use,” an Instagram spokeswoman told us in an email: “There’s no truth to this post.” Adam Moserri, head of Instagram, said something similar on Twitter earlier this week.

That didn’t stop users on both Instagram and Facebook (which owns Instagram) from posting the bogus block of text, though. Among them was Perry, who posted the text on his personal Instagram account and highlighted the post on his personal Twitter account. Although the energy secretary apparently took down the Instagram post, he later uploaded a spoof of the hoax.

Perry didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial decisions.


Stopera, Matt. “A List Of All The Celebrities That Fell For That Really Dumb Instagram Hoax.” BuzzFeed. 21 Aug 2019.

Terms of Use. Instagram. Accessed 21 Aug 2019.

Hitlin, Paul and Lee Rainie. “Facebook Algorithms and Personal Data.” Pew Research Center. 16 Jan 2019.