Episode 01


The journalist Tin Fischer and the computer scientist David Goldwich analyzed various hashtags, which were used for tagging pictures uploaded on the photo­platform Instagram for an article in Neon­Magazine. We found this to be an interesting project, which brought astounding results to light. Through the use of “Instagram­Leaks” the author describes which data the users of Instagram thoughtlessly reveal when they upload and share their photos with the mobile app and how easy it is to very legally evaluate and exploit this information. We spoke with the Author.

Control is lost in the cyber­frenzy. But the frenzy for uploading content follows a strict set of rules. Pictures where one drinks #sparklingwine, appear around 21:00 hours. One starts to drink #gintonic only after midnight. The #warmup is in great demand at 21:00 hours. And people are really #drunk at 24:00 hours. (Data from 2013+2014) – Quelle: Instarama

Interview with Tin Fischer

You have dealt with user­behavior of Instagram intensely. Were there any results that really knocked your socks off?
Tin Fischer: I was astounded by the fact that the data is so freely accessible. David, being a computer scientist, found it to be less surprising. And then of course I found it remarkable, that nobody investigated this data more thoroughly yet. Instagram seems to still be somewhat of an underdog, although it is one of the biggest social networks in the world.

Many people know little to nothing when it comes to the subject of data. Why did you still dare to study this topic?
As a journalist, I research infographics for my articles every now and then. I was in need of tweets with geodata for a story, but hardly anyone uses geotags on twitter. So that didn’t work. And then I stumbled upon the webpage iknowwhereyourcatlives.com. Here someone actually localizes cat owners via pictures of their cats. I thought: pretty clever, since for some reason people seem to use geotags much more often when posting pictures. I called David and asked if we could tap into Instagram. He replied that technically it was dead easy.

How long did you need for the programming and the evaluation of the data, that you very legally leeched from Instagram?
It took a little longer than we initially assumed it would. We started last summer and the first version of the download­program was ready after a few days. But then I had many special wishes so we first had to become acquainted with the subject matter concerning data­analysis and learn other things such as cartography and linguistics programs alongside our regular work.

ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR MOTIVES the Instagrammer is you yourself. Even better: your body. There is however a great difference between the body parts we mark with a hashtag ourselves (#hair) and which sights others reward with a like (#biceps). Bikini photos are the ones which receive the most likes. Additionally, one can discover which tattoo­motives and nailpolishes are “in” right now. (Data: January 2015) – Quelle: Instarama

How did the readers of “Neon” react to your article?
All in all, mostly baffled and amused, I think. We have, after all, primarily focused on finding entertaining content in the data, rather than search for aspects that arouse social conflict. It also has to do with the fact, that the data on Instagram isn’t all too personal. Instagram is more of a stage, where you portray your most pleasant sides. We analysed all of my Google search queries from the past few years for another story. Here, one really gets down to business.

How large was the volume of data, which you have analysed and more importantly, how does one get access to this data?
You can access the data via the API which is so to say a delivery­entrance of a social network. This is where third­party service apps dock on for example. One does need programing skills in order to do so, but the API is nonetheless an open and legal gateway. It is difficult to quantify the data volume, because one downloads a lot of content which is uninteresting if you should take a closer look.

Would you say, that your knowledge is transferable to other networks such as Facebook?
Every social network generates other data. On a photo­platform such as Instagram it mostly revolves around topics such as travel, fashion and food. Politics and technology play basically no role at all. On Twitter, exactly the opposite is the case. Additionally, the target groups are very different. Instagram is mostly young and feminine, which is why you can’t really generalize when talking about the results.

IT IS A MEDICAL RIDDLE, but on weekends the fewest Instagram­users are in fact lying #sick in bed. Can it be that the immune system functions at its best, when one is free of
work? Most sick­leaves are handed in to the employers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays ­ but surely it’s just all that stress. (Data: 2013/204) – Quelle: Instarama

Which personal consequences do you draw from this research?
It is contagious, moving around this colorful and peaceful Instagram­world. At some point, the only thing one wants to do is listen to Cro and eat sushi. Now I have to shake it off, listen to more serious music again.

Do you behave differently in the digital world, where we leave our data everywhere?
I am somewhat divided when it comes to this. Well, I use the search engine DuckDuckGo, have cookies only temporarily activated and logout from Facebook, when I am on the run online. But sure ­ thereby we lose comfort, the products don’t function as well as they should and the online­enterprises start to rate you as a troublemaking fool as time passes. My computer­science colleague David, on the other hand was always pretty data­abstinent. I think he doesn’t even own an Instagram account.

Tin, thank you very much for the Interview!

THE HEART IS INSTAGRAM’S CURRENCY. Celebrities who have many followers, receive more likes than normal users of course. But the motive also decides on the popularity of a photo. A cat gets double as many likes as a dog, a baby bump is more popular that the bikini figure. The number of likes is so high because some receive tens of thousands of likes. (Data: 2013+2014) – Quelle: Instarama


Jens Glutsch, Data Detox Counselor

The Master of Science in Computer Science will now regularly publish Data-Detox-Tips here on our site. The 42-year old spent the last 15 years working as a software developer and IT consultant.
This year, he began working as an independent consultant for Data Detox, privacy and data security.

Selfies with Privacy

It is really nice to share visuals of holiday experiences with your loved ones or the wonderful meal, which is being served before you. However, you should keep in mind, that when you upload a picture a whole lot of Metadata is transmitted. Automatically noted, apart from your login data in Instagram is, for example the date and exact time when the picture was posted. That is data that I don’t reveal gladly. Additionally, the metadata of the picture discloses the exact geographical position where the photo was taken.

You can change this with relatively simple means:

First off ­ the radical approach (uuuh… There he comes again, the man with the aluminium helmet…): Don’t post bullshit. Honestly, in 5 minutes no one (not even you yourself) will be interested in your awesome selfie, which you shot in front of the 78th bridge pier. Posting less often means less data­points stored. Easy right?

The next possibility lies in editing the metadata of the posted photo. This metadata is stored as EXIF data in every picture. Nice analogy to the package slip. Nobody reads one or the other. You can view and edit the EXIF data (important!) prior to posting your picture via specific online­services such as thexifer.net. This tool is very practical, but a little time consuming.
Then there is an app that you can use when you’re on the go, that can free your selfie of its location data. “Photo Exif Editor” is an app that you can download in the Google Play Store.

In order to permanently and easily hide your location data, it would also be enough to switch off the location services on your devices. That way there will be no geographical information in the EXIF data ­ it’s that simple, easy and extremely effective.

Data-dieting helps see clearer

I felt smothered by the flood of data. Data was streaming in on me from all over the place: News here, weather forecast there, a rating there next to a comment. I lost sight of what is important – my life and that’s why I chose to go on a data-diet.
As a self-experiment, I consistently abstained from reading the news or comments, and held off from giving ratings. I suddenly realize, that I live in the here and now much more consciously.
In the meantime, I selectively search for information, when I plan a trip or an event for the upcoming weekend, for example. That is how my data-dieting turned into a sustainable and healthy data-nutrition, that I have retained since the dawn of my self-experiment.

Data-minimising leads to a good life

My experience with Google showed me, that there are many businesses “out there”, who would love to get their hands on my data. Yet I don’t want that to happen, since once my data is “out there”, there is no way of getting it back. For this reason I now ask myself very consciously, before making use of an offer online what data to I need to hand over. Of course, every service provider would like to collect as much data about me as possible, because personal data is the strongest currency on the internet.

But even in the case, that a field is marked as mandatory, this data in needed only in very few cases for the provision of the service. A streaming-service doesn’t need your postal address, since it isn’t supplying an audio-stream by post, it’s sending it electronically. If an entry is expected nonetheless, then I recommend you to unleash your creativity or turn to “poow orthokraffie capabilities. Only the fewest forms actually examine the content (Thank god for the right to privacy…).

Google doesn’t have to know everything

Google earns its money by collecting information about its users, amongst other things. All well and good. Unfortunately, Google thereby generates a profile of each user: what you search for, where you are, where you were and if necessary, also where you will go to next. This realization made me somewhat angry. After all, it’s none of Google’s business, what I search for and where I was.

In order to stop feeding this data-Kraken information, I now use other search engines. Startpage.com, for example and DuckDuckGo, which don’t follow me and couldn’t care less about my whereabouts and where I’m planning to go next. And on top of it all, they even provide me with better search results than Google, and even filter my results as a special “service”.
After all, thanks to the profile generated by Google, Google knows better than you do what you search for and such paternalism happens to be quite commodious …

Threema instead of Whatsapp

I make use of modern means of communication with great enthusiasm and certainly don’t want to pledge a return to the stone plaque and carrier pigeon. Nevertheless, instant messengers such as Whatsapp – sorry, bad habit, I don’t want to repeat the negative. I would much rather emphasize the positive.

So again: Instant messengers like Threema make an effective and fast communication possible. In our marketing driven world, it is not unusual for the inferior product to gain greater popularity. Just it once was – the older amongst you will remember – with VHS, the wretched video system, that won the battle against Betamax.

Although Whatsapp’s security happens to be grotesquely insufficient, however they still have a huge customer inflow.
I therefore call upon all of you: switch from Whatsapp to Threema and share your change with your peers. Threema offers the same functions as Whatsapp, but it is safe.

Krypto is cool and people, that use Krypto tend to have a better love-life and a much better connection to God. The Whatsappers, on the other hand, have a marvelous connection to the NSA.

I have taped my webcam!

It sounds a little paranoid. However, this is an absolutely legitimate and safe method to lock out unwelcome voyeurs in my laptop out of my life. Another benefit of the little sticker, is that it serves as a reminder to me, to never again carelessly risk the loss of my privacy.


  1. @Nick:
    Du vergleichst hier zwei vollkommen unabhängige Sichtweisen auf
    Privatsphäre miteinander.
    Ja, Ghostery schützt die Privatsphäre indem es dich auf Tracking aufmerksam macht und dies blockiert.
    Dieses Plugin habe ich auch in meiner Werkzeugkiste.
    Aber es hat nichts mit Metadaten zu tun.
    Ghostery schützt dich nicht davor, deine Daten bei Facebook preiszugeben.

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