Instagram will soon introduce a new data portability feature, which will let users download a copy of the photos and messages they have shared on the app. A spokesperson confirmed the forthcoming feature to TechCrunch today: “We are building a new data portability tool. You’ll soon be able to download a copy of what you’ve shared on Instagram, including your photos, videos and messages.”
It isn’t clear when the new tool is coming, but TechCrunch notes that the forthcoming GDPR privacy laws in Europe require companies permit users to download copies of their own data. To comply, the feature would have to launch before May 25.
Instagram, of course, is owned by Facebook. Ideally, portability lets users control their own data and move freely to competitors’ sites. But that poses the question: Who is Instagram’s competition? Flickr? Google photos? And who is Facebook’s competition? Portability is useful if you want to quit Instagram, but if you want another place to share photos among a vibrant, robust audience, there aren’t many choices.
Facebook users are already free to download their own data – that is, the data they uploaded, not necessarily all the data the site has collected from them – and take it elsewhere, but even CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself struggled when asked to name Facebook’s competitors. For Instagram, at least, letting users download their photos and messages is key in giving people control of their data.