The viral hoax can be traced all the way back to 2012, but that didn't stop stars like Rob Lowe, Usher, and Niall Horan from sharing it

By Rachel DeSantis
August 21, 2019 09:55 AM
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There’s a good chance anyone who logged on to Instagram Tuesday night saw a message about photo rights posted by one of their favorite celebrities.

Stars like Niall Horan, Pink, Usher and Josh Brolin all posted the same note to their profiles with the following gist: Instagram is implementing a new “rule” in which they are allowed to use your photos in any way they want moving forward, including in “court cases in litigation against you.”

Though the post was full of grammatical mistakes and appeared to be written using varying typography, making its legitimacy questionable, celebrities jumped on the bandwagon, declaring themselves exempt from the rule because they’d re-shared the statement.

The only problem is, the whole thing was a hoax — one that originated and first started circulating way back in 2012.

“There’s no truth to this post,” an Instagram spokesperson confirmed to PEOPLE in a statement.

John Mayer and Rob Lowe
Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty; Anna Webber/Getty

Stars who fell for the message were teased by some of their fans in the comments section, including Rob Lowe, whose ribbing came courtesy of his own son, John.

“Oh god 🤦🏼‍♂️,” John commented, as captured by Comments By Celebs. “You literally have a son who went to Law School. @matthewedwardlowe come get him.”

The Parks and Recreation actor’s son, Matthew, is a student at Loyola Law School at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, according to his LinkedIn.

Meanwhile, stars like John Mayer — who has a reputation as something of an Instagram troll — saw the opportunity to pounce, and shared a satirical message of his own that expressly gave Instagram the right to “publish, distribute, and/or sell any or all of my digital content.”

As the “Gravity” singer, 41, explained, that includes a myriad of things, namely his “world famous” meatloaf recipes, Joe Camel fan fiction, Fight Club film flubs, photographs of sinks, drawings of Jenga Jengison, his “imaginary porn star made of wooden blocks,” and his “woke” magic tricks.

“This post I made on my phone shall stand as a legally binding document, in perpetuity throughout the universe,” he concluded.

The Daily Show host Trevor Noah also got in on the fun, posting a statement of his own that mocked the poor grammar featured in the original.

“A new rule from Instagram this is also old rule and no rule is happening tomorrow where Instagram can use your picture and message for make money and also court case,” he wrote. “If you want to stop this you must repost this message which is a real contract and you can tell it is very real because the grammar and speling is perfect.”

As Snopes points out, a similar message that shared language about a looming deadline first floated around the internet in 2012.

Other celebrities who fell for the hoax include Julianne Moore, 2 Chainz, Jamie Lynn Sigler, Colton Haynes, Zoe Saldana, Taraji P. Henson, and Judd Apatow, though many have since deleted their posts.

Pink had a sense of humor about it, reposting a news story on Instagram that featured a photo of her below the headline, “A List of All the Celebrities That Fell for That Really Dumb Instagram Hoax.”

Wrote the singer, “Awww look at that pretty face

:woman::skin-tone-3:
:microphone:
:joy:

.”