The Channel 13 News Instagram Update hoax is back as celebrities including Judd Apatow and Beyonce’s mother began to share the fake warning in August 2019.
The hoax message warns users that their Instagram profiles will become public and that Instagram will be able to use their content as they please including “court cases” or “litigation” against the user.
“Don’t forget tomorrow starts the new Instagram rule where they can use your photos. Don’t forget Deadline today!!!” says the message, “It can be used in court cases in litigation against you. Everything you’ve ever posted becomes public from today. Even messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed. Its costs nothing for a simple copy and paste, better safe than sorry.”
The viral hoax is attributed to “Channel 13 News” which could refer to countless news stations across the country. Fooled users have been contacting their local channel 13 news stations looking for answers.
The viral “copypasta” continues with a faux legal message that falsely “protects” users that post it from Instagram using their “pictures, information, messages or posts, both past and future”.
The post will not protect users from anything and give them no legal recourse as they have already agreed to the terms & conditions set forth by Instagram and Facebook in order to use the platforms.
“With this statement, I give notice to Instagram it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents.” says the hoax, “The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of this privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308 -1 1 308-103 and Rome Statute.)”
The Uniform Commercial Code isn’t a law, it’s a collection of suggested laws for states to take on that vary by each state how they’re enacted and enforced. Citing this code does nothing to stop Facebook and Instagram from using your data or content.
The “Rome Statute” is a treaty that established the International Criminal Court as well as four core international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. It’s put there to make the message sound authentic but has nothing to do with privacy laws.
The message concludes with, “NOTE: Instagram is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once it will be tacitly allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates. Instagram does not have my permission to share photos or messages.”
Despite the typos in the message and the “chain email” feel of the message, more than a few prominent social media influencers and celebrities were duped and reposted the message to their followers.
Judd Apatow, Debra Messing & Taraji P. Henson Are Among the A-Listers Who Fell for the ‘Channel 13 News’ Instagram Hoax
It wasn’t just your parents and friends that were fooled by this hoax, countless celebrities reposted the message and instructed their followers to do the same.
The list of celebrities that posted the message includes Judd Apatow, Rita Wilson, T.I., Julianne Moore, Julia Roberts, Debra Messing, Taraji P. Henson, Beyoncé’s mom, and Waka Flocka Flame.
The celebrities reposting the hoax to their massive followings have given it widespread attention and credibility which caused it to spread like wildfire. Some celebrities tagged @instagram on their posts in order to get the platform’s attention.
“There’s no truth to this post,” Stephanie Otway, brand communications manager at Instagram, told WWD.
Actor Rob Lowe was another celebrity who fell victim to the hoax. Luckily, his son Johnny did his research and hilariously called him out on it.
Even respected journalists thought the message was legitimate. Famous Canadian journalist and owner of Vice Media Shane Smith reposted it on Instagram, using a previous post from Vice journalist Ben Dietz who also fell for the hoax.
The list of hoodwinked celebrities also includes Scooter Braun, Lennon Stella, Adriana Lima, makeup artists James Kaliardos and Pati Dubroff, New York Magazine’s Wendy Goodman, and Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot.
Most of the celebrities on this list that initially posted it have since deleted it after finding out it was a longrunning internet prank.
A Few Celebrities Caught on & Had Fun with the Hoax
Some celebrities did their research before posting the hoax to their followers. The Daily Show host Trevor Noah posted a cheeky response that made light of the viral message.
“Don’t forget today start the new day of a hoax people fall for in the internet” the comedian wrote, “If you want to stop this you must repost this message which is a real contract and you can tell it it very real because the grammar and speling is perfect.”
He continued, mocking the cadence, misspellings, and nonsensical law references of the original hoax, “Instagram you are a bad boy, don’t use my message for your badness ok! I don’t allow you for this. Now I stop you because this was also on channel 13 news! And this this Roman law 1134526-c5575”
John Mayer also got in on the fun, taking a different angle and posting this message to his Instagram.
Mayer gives Instagram permission to post content “as they see fit” which includes “Joe Camel fan fiction, Fight Club film flubs, Photographs of sinks, drawings of jenga jengison, my imaginary porn star made of wooden blocks, and woke magic tricks.”
The ‘Channel 13 Hoax’ Has Been Around Since 2011
Like most content on the internet, this hoax is nothing new. Similar versions of this message have gone viral and fooled social media users before.
According to Snopes, the copypasta hoax first appeared in November 2012 and made the rounds on Facebook. The message was nearly verbatim to the one posted this week. It got so popular that Facebook had to release a statement.
“There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site. This is false.” The company said in a statement. “Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been. Click here to learn more.”
It popped up again in September 2015. According to CBS, the exact same message started going viral and was posted and reposted millions of times. There was another hoax message being spread alongside it that falsely claimed Facebook would start charging for content.
“Now it’s official! It has been published in the media. Facebook has just released the entry price: £5.99 ($9.10) to keep the subscription of your status to be set to “private.”” Said the other hoax message, “If you paste this message on your page, it will be offered free (I said paste not share) if not tomorrow, all your posts can become public. Even the messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed. After all, it does not cost anything for a simple copy and paste.”
Facebook again addressed the hoax in a blog post.
The message started spreading again in October 2016. CBS reported that the message was posted to Facebook and Instagram. They also said the hoax has been circulating since as early as 2011.
The internet has a short memory and if history is any indication we’ll be seeing this message pop up again in the next few years.