On Tuesday, the internet was buzzing about Instagram’s new Private Policy and Terms of Service that go in effect January 16, 2013. The terms were written to make all of us Instagram users believe our photos were going to be sold to advertisers:
“You agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”
In response to the uproar, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom responded on Instagram’s blog. His post focused on three areas he heard feedback about the most: Advertising, Ownership Rights and Privacy Settings. Below is what he had to say about Advertising, the area that had people ready to delete their account:
“Advertising is one of many ways that Instagram can become a self-sustaining business, but not the only one. Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.”
To provide context, we envision a future where both users and brands alike may promote their photos & accounts to increase engagement and to build a more meaningful following. Let’s say a business wanted to promote their account to gain more followers and Instagram was able to feature them in some way. In order to help make a more relevant and useful promotion, it would be helpful to see which of the people you follow also follow this business. In this way, some of the data you produce — like the actions you take (eg, following the account) and your profile photo — might show up if you are following this business.
The language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question. Our main goal is to avoid things like advertising banners you see in other apps that would hurt the Instagram user experience. Instead, we want to create meaningful ways to help you discover new and interesting accounts and content while building a self-sustaining business at the same time.”
Systrom also stated users will still own their photos. This doesn’t mean that user information won’t be shared (if you’re on Facebook, you’re information is shared there too), but it does mean users don’t have to worry about photos being sold or featured in advertisements without approval. I’m glad Instagram took the time to clear this up, because I, like so many others, considered not using the social media site after January 16th.
If you still aren’t a fan of the new terms and no longer want to use Instagram, Huffington Post offers a few types on how to back up your photos and Instagram substitutes you can use. If you plan on deleting your account, you won’t be able to reactive it or use the same username in the future. If you need a break from Instagram but want to consider coming back to it in the future, it may be wise just log off of the site, both online and on your phone.
What do you think about Instagram’s new changes? Do you believe Kevin’s statement? When news broke that photos would be sold or used in advertisements, did you consider deleting your account?
Click HERE to view Kevin Systrom’s full blog post about the Private Policy and Terms of Service changes.