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Smile! These Are Officially The Most Instagrammed Spots In Malta… And Here’s What That Says About The Power Of Geo-Tagging

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Do you even ‘gram, bro? We’re sure you do, it’s in our DNA now. When we pop out of the baby chute after a nine-month nap we already have our handles emblazoned across our chest. Wow, evolution, huh? Grazzi ta’ kollox, Darwin! 

Instagram in Malta is a huge deal, we have so many hashtags we don’t know what to do with them.

Whether you’re tagging #Malta just because you’re on the island or #LovinMalta because you want a feature, tagging @sosazerafa to board the like train or hiding behind a locked account because you like to have your privacy respected, literally everyone that lives on the Rock has an account (or five).

We teamed up with Steve Agius, Senior Visiting Lecturer at the Faculty of Economics, Management and Accountancy at the University of Malta to analyse some information he and his team pulled from the site.

 

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Steve currently lectures Social Media Strategy for the Bcom program in the UoM and has developed his own module on Big Data Analytics for the MSc Strategic Management and Marketing degree course.

Steve’s team pulled data from a total of 31,000 public posts that had #Malta tagged, scraped the data using specialised data mining tools and was able to extract location information from the posts if available.

We then analysed the data and found Malta’s 10 most Insagrammed places.

The data was collected during the week beginning July 23rd and ending July 29th. So, without further ado, the 10 most Instagrammed spots in Malta are…

10. Blue Grotto

 

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9. Mellieħa

 

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8. Popeye Village

 

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7. Golden Bay Beach

 

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6. Marsaxlokk

 

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5. St. Julian’s

 

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4. Sliema

 

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3. Mdina

 

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2. Blue Lagoon

 

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1. Valletta

 

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This data hardly comes as a surprise. But it is only when you look at the total list of 69 tagged locations that you can understand there is an obvious divide between local posts and those of tourists.

You can literally plot out the itinerary of any traveller’s trip to Malta using this map.

First post: just arrived. Second post: the hotel – either Sliema, St. Julian’s, Gżira, Mellieħa, Buġibba, Qawra, St. Paul’s Bay or Valletta. You can even spot Kappara there with its own little yellow dot thanks to its boutique hotels and presumably the odd Airbnb here and there. The rest? A day at Popeye Village, then a night out in St. Julian’s, a trip to Valletta, maybe a day at Pretty Bay, gotta get that ‘gram of Blue Grotto, you have to walk through Mdina’s silent city walls, grab a drink at Café del Mar, check out Marsaxlokk’s Sunday morning market, spend your last day at Għajn Tuffieħa and then head back to the airport for the basic white girl “so sad to leave but so excited to see me girlies xxx #wanderlust” farewell post.

You could also cite the expat community as a source of some anomaly, given that Mellieħa has its own large bubble and is an area that homes a lot of Scandinavian and British expats. There’s also a spot near High Ridge that is presumably every tal-Pepe housewife who finds five minutes between shopping and lunch with the girls to update the world with their new nails.

MIA gets a shout for its larger-than-average bubble too, and we can only assume this is from the lads on tour arriving for their holidays with a “week long sesh mode activated #swag” post. Marsa Sports Ground makes itself known as well, another citation of bias in the study as the period covered in the sample was one that covered the dates of Unite with Tomorrowland who held their annual festival on the fields.

 

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This data is all very exciting to look at, especially given Malta’s blessing/curse of being a literal metaphor for a tin of sardines. But given that most posts are generated from tourist traps, the strictly localised data can easily fall through there cracks. But is this something we should worry about?

Facebook’s, own T&C’s state “Any information that you make available to the public on Facebook or Instagram can be searched for and viewed by any of the over 1 billion worldwide Facebook and Instagram users.”

This means that like other social media platforms, Instagram will process your location data continuously while the app is in use (or left in the background for those of you with background app refresh left on). If your location data is set to only share when asked, think again, Instagram will still track this but not make it publicly visible. How else are they going to know to pop in KFC’s new advert to everyone they know hangs around near the Technopark?

As Steve puts it, “thanks to advanced social listening tools and audience intelligence tools and platforms, today you are able to aggregate data and uncover trends and insights and use this data to transform the way you understand and influence decision making.”

If that doesn’t scare you into not geo-tagging or introducing self-control so that you don’t post your life in live action updates, then maybe you’re just living your life a little too safely.

Is this a threat to user privacy and a case of Grande Fratelli keeping an eye on you, or do you think that’s just an overreaction?

It doesn’t really sound like Instagram is out to respect the ethics of privacy, but just how many of us care that much about it? Unless you specify directly when first setting up the app that you don’t want Instagram to use your location data, they will record this continuously while the app is running or left open in the background. It is only when you post an image with a location tag that this information is made publicly accessible on their first layer of the platform, but some crafty fingers might be able to get their hands on your location data if they know where to look.

Do you tag your locations on your public posts? What other ways can we look after our data online? Let us know in the comments below.

READ NEXT: This Is The Ultimate Selfie Bucket List Around Malta

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