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Instagram Terms of Service to go into effect, where did lost users go?

Instagram set out to change their Terms of Service, but users revolted, some even left the community altogether. But what were the final terms, and where did defectors go?



Instagram and the great Terms of Service controversy of 2012

Last month, Instagram announced updates to their Terms of Service which became extremely controversial as the legalese was translated to mean that the company basically owned all images taken by users, no matter how private, even minors, and allowed them to use images without permission or notification, which ultimately led to a reversal by Instagram’s CEO who said they simply wanted to give users time to express concerns.

Which they did.

But not only did users express concern, many jumped ship altogether, as The New York Times claims active users have fallen by over 50 percent, which Instagram strongly refutes. Technologist Dirk Singer reports that the two main beneficiaries of Instagram defectors are EyeEm and Flickr, which makes sense, especially given that Flickr responded to the kerfuffle by offering three free months of Flickr Pro.

What of Instagram for remaining users?

We were critical of the original Terms of Service asserted by Instagram, but the dirty secret is that we didn’t defect. In team discussion, we all agreed that our behavior has changed, and what we are actually photographing is limited to only things that wouldn’t hurt us, which honestly should have been the universal behavior to begin with, but with privacy settings, most people feel protected. If you put something anywhere on the internet, even in private message, it’s not guaranteed to remain private. Ever.

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So what of those who stayed with the service? The new Instagram Terms of Service were originally to go into effect today, but will now go into effect on January 19th, along with the rollout of ads on Instagram which predictably has also come with its own criticism.

The company emailed users today, “Our community has grown by many millions of people since we wrote our original Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. As we announced in December, we have updated our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. These policies also now take into account the feedback we received from the Instagram Community. We’re emailing you to remind you that, as we announced last month, these updated policies will be in effect as of January 19th, 2013. You can read our blog post that highlights some of the key updates. And remember, these updates don’t change the fact that you own your photos that you post on Instagram, and our privacy controls work just as they did before.”

Users that still wish to opt out, which is the only way to not agree to these new Terms of Service, now have three additional days to do so, but we predict the backlash the company has already experienced has mostly passed.

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