Instagram is notoriously tough when it comes to actually getting a copy of those photos you’ve uploaded, with only third-party workarounds creating options to download images. But as parent company Facebook faces criticism over data and privacy, Instagram now has a new download tool. Instagram recently confirmed that web users now have something similar to what Facebook has had in place for eight years, a Download Your Data option that will allow Instagrammers to save their data.
The tool allows users to download what they’ve shared on Instagram, which will include photos, videos, comments, profile information and more. The tool could also be used to save images if users opt to leave the platform or to open up the possibility of uploading the same data to another network.
After logging in on a desktop browser, users can access the feature by navigating to the settings from the profile page. The download option is under privacy and security, under data download. Users have to type in an email, and Instagram will prep the file and email the data within 48 hours. The tool downloads everything, so users that only want a single photo may still have reason to use third-party workarounds.
Instagram says the tool will be coming to the mobile app, but that it is still rolling out on iOS and Android, so users won’t see the tool in the app just yet.
The change comes both as Facebook is facing what could be the harshest criticism yet in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica debacle. Meanwhile, new privacy laws go into effect next month in Europe.
Facebook originally said some privacy changes would only be available in the European Union countries where the General Data Privacy Regulation goes into effect. Facebook has since changed its stance, allowing the data protection tools worldwide (though some parts of the law, like the fines Facebook faces for messing up with data, are only in the European Union). One part of that law requires a user’s data to be portable, which is likely the reason behind Instagram’s new download tool.
Facebook already has a Download Your Data tool — but that same option had some users realizing that the network tracked texts and calls on Android devices. A New York Times reporter who downloaded his own data pointed out the file contained friends he had removed, his entire contact list, and even a list of advertisers that had acquired his contact information from a feature (that’s now being phased out) allowing companies to upload information collected elsewhere to Facebook.
The tool could be a welcome addition to Instagram — and not just for privacy reasons. Instagram doesn’t currently have a native option that allows you to download photos from the platform. So if you lose your device and Instagram becomes the only place those images exist, you have to use a third-party app in order to download those files. Instagram hasn’t commented on whether the images and videos inside the download tool will use a reduced resolution or if the download can be at the maximum file size.
Updated on April 24: The download tool is now available.