InstagramDid you hear that Instagram changed it’s privacy policy and terms of use? They can now sell your images (they might not), put you in an advertisement on Instagram or Facebook (their mother company) or elsewhere, and they can serve you advertising without full disclosure. This all goes into effect Jan. 16, 2013.

I feel like they pulled the rug out from underneath all of their users. There’s no way to opt out of this new wrinkle other than deleting your account. If you do so before Jan. 16, your images are safe from the new terms. While they say they don’t own user uploaded content, users “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.”

It used to be that advertisers would have to ask explicit permission to use content, that is no longer the case. Your face or images could end up on a billboard or on a Facebook ad. You have no control over that and will receive no compensation or credit.

Did I mention that minors are not exempt?!? By signing up to use the service, they are acknowledging that a parent has agreed to let them use Instagram and that their content may be used for advertising purposes. Because you know that teens ask their parents before downloading and using an app. Secondly, I will bet that neither teens nor parents will really understand the impact of this change.

I want to know why they can change their rules mid stream? I will hear back from lawyer friend later today but I know she’s not going to have anything to say that will make me happy.

My view is that everything you say, do, and post is public information. But I really don’t like the games they are playing with people that don’t understand their legal rights and when they are being ruthlessly taken away. I’ve never been a privacy advocate but this one takes the cake. The fact that minors are being taken advantage of is the part that really gets me worked up.

If you want to be exempt from this, delete your account. If you keep it, know that pictures of you or your children are fair game.


So shortly after I wrote this blog, Instagram backpedaled.

“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.”

When I spoke to a lawyer about it, I expressed that what I think is a major concern for users is that while it is a public platform, no one wants to feel like a product. Offering your content for free is one thing but if Instagram were to try to make a profit off of their user’s images, it would upset many of them. This is what I think Instragram feels the need to clear up.

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