A Facebook spokesperson has told Wired that Instagram’s “Unlink Account” feature, which suggests that users can disconnect their Instagram account from their Facebook account, doesn’t really separate the two.
The spokesperson said that it isn’t actually possible to unlink these accounts and that even if a user doesn’t explicitly link their Facebook and Instagram accounts, they’re still intrinsically connected.
The reason for this, according to the spokesperson, is that Facebook and Instagram’s shared infrastructure, systems, and technology are designed to automatically connect information about users across its services. The spokesperson added: “Linking or unlinking your accounts in the app doesn’t affect this.”
Facebook has been linking accounts in this way for a long time, with the spokesperson admitting that this practice started shortly after the company’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012.
In addition to talking about the ways Facebook uses data to connect Instagram accounts, the spokesperson also talked about other ways the company uses this shared data to make recommendations across its services which include suggesting that people join Facebook groups based on data gathered via Instagram or Facebook Messenger.
The comments come after Facebook has faced increased scrutiny over the way it shares data across its apps with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons saying this month that Facebook’s plans to unify some of its features across Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp could make it difficult to break up.
They also come after a Facebook data gathering restriction in Germany was lifted on Monday. The restriction had been put in place after Germany’s Federal Cartel Office raised concerns over the way Facebook gathers data through its Instagram, WhatsApp, and its other third-party apps. Germany’s Federal Cartel Office has said that it will be appealing the decision and taking the appeal to Germany’s high court.