New Instagram Terms of Service Stir Outrage
Photo sharing service Instagram made a lot of loyal users royally unhappy yesterday when they introduced their new terms of service, as reported by GizMag, Business Insider and others. The new terms state that "you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service." In other words, anything you post to Instagram, including images of you, things you own and things you've created, effectively becomes their property to sell to whomever they'd like. So, do not be surprised when an image of yourself shows up in an online advertizing banner, and do not expect to be compensated for it either. Will Instagram (or Facebook, their owners) do anything about this?
Specifics of the Terms
As of now, the main problem is that any photo you upload to Instagram can be used by them for any purpose they see fit. If Facebook's goal with Instagram is to make money, which it is considering purchasing the company cost Facebook $1 billion, the best way to do this will be to sell users' photos to advertisers. If an advertiser decides to buy one of your photos from Instagram, neither Instagram nor the advertiser is required to pay you, nor are they required to label the ad as an advertisement. Worse still, Instagram is allowed to sell the metadata attached to your photos to advertisers as well. Before you know it, advertisers from around the globe could be purchasing information regarding your location. On the flip-side, Instagram could argue that this is simply the price you pay for a free, high-quality app integrated seamlessly into the world's most popular social network. But are users willing to pay for this convenience with the rights to their photos, or will they bring their business to a different photo sharing app?
Instagram heard the cries echoed across the internet and quickly produced a blog post in response. The post includes the key line, "Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. Nothing about this has changed." They further say that they'll update their terms again to reflect this. However, not everyone is convinced, and this will probably remain true even after Instagram officially changes their terms of service to reflect their new stance. The response post include another telling line: "From the start, Instagram was created to become a business. Advertising is one of many ways that Instagram can become a self-sustaining business, but not the only one." At this point, it remains to be seen how Instagram intends to be a profitable business without selling user photos and data to advertisers. As always, we'll keep you posted.