Stars … they’re just like us! Or, at least, they’re just like your Aunt Martha who you only see at weddings and funerals and whose life is filtered through her many, many ill-conceived Facebook posts. Martha doesn’t really have a firm grasp on how to spot something bogus online. Neither does Julia Roberts, Usher, TI, Rita Wilson, Jessie J, Evan Rachel Wood, or Nancy Meyers who, along with a number of other famous folks, spread a hoax to millions of people this week.
On Tuesday, a screenshotted copypasta — internet slang for a combination of a meme, warning, and hoax that is copy and pasted and reshared ad nauseam until people start to believe it’s true — started making the rounds on Instagram, specifically the Instagrams of the rich and famous and hot. It claims “tomorrow starts the new INSTAGRAM rule where they can use your photos.” (Any instance of the word Instagram in the post is in a bolder font that looks as though it was pasted over the original copypasta like some sort of digital ransom note.) It’s complete B.S. and a version of the disclaimer has been around for years. Snopes did a fact-check on it back in 2012 — the text is nearly identical except Facebook has been crossed out and replaced with Instagram. It cites Channel 13 News as the source for the warning about the upcoming change. Which, if you put aside the other red flags, is also an indicator this is B.S. Channel 13 News, known trusted outlet viewed by celebs and civilians everywhere.
Additional posters include Judd Apatow, Wacka Flocka Flame, Scooter Braun, Debra Messing, Taraji P Henson, Julianne Moore, Rob Lowe, Martha Stewart, and Rick Perry, the guy in charge of our nuclear weapons. (A number of these posts have since been deleted but screenshots are forever.) A couple of variations have also been floating around. Gal Gadot’s now-deleted post included the “Rome Statute” and UCc1-308 as laws which could be used to punish Instagram for using her photos. The Rome Statue is a non-binding agreement the U.S. signed in 2000 establishing the international criminal court and designating core crimes, like genocide and war crimes. It, unsurprisingly, does not mention copyright or Instagram. UCc 1-308 is a section of the Uniform Commercial Code that is often wrongly cited as a way to turn, well, anything into a contract you can get out of. (If you mention UCc 1-308 above your signature, so the incorrect internet theories go, any document becomes a contract where you have rights to sue. That’s not how it works.)
Kudos to John Mayer and Trevor Noah who figured out the thing was bogus and decided to post parodies. The rest of you, please know that your children — and fans — are very embarrassed for you. Especially you, Rob Lowe. Your kids even took the time to comment reminding you that one of your sons is, quite literally, a lawyer. Call him next time.