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Instagram just wanted to give you “an opportunity to raise any concerns”

Instagram took to their blog to explain that their invasive new policies are just misunderstood, legal documents are tough for commoners to understand, and they really just wanted to give you time to raise any concerns. So users did, many of whom ditched the app altogether.



Instagram stirs up controversy, reacts

Yesterday, Instagram announced new terms of service that would allow the company to use and sell any user’s photo without notification or compensation, even in the case of minors, without any opt-out or privacy settings that disallow it, leading to many users to delete their account and leave Instagram for one of their competitors, and we called upon the company to reconsider their position.

On the Instagram blog, Co-Founder Kevin Systrom wrote a post entitled, “Thank you, and we’re listening,” noting that “legal documents are easy to misinterpret,” and while the terms of service is still in place, Systrom says there are three major concerns that they will be considering altering after the backlash by users and press.

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Update: Instagram reverts back to original terms of service, click here to read more.

Advertising, privacy, and other terms

First, regarding advertising, Systrom says, “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.”

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To illustrate, he says that if a business wanted to use the photo sharing app to create a “more relevant and useful promotion, it would be helpful to see which of the people you follow also follow this business.”

“We do not have plans for anything like [using user images in advertising] and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question,” Systrom said, later stating that “Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. “Nothing about this has changed. We respect that there are creative artists and hobbyists alike that pour their heart into creating beautiful photos, and we respect that your photos are your photos. Period.”

Lastly, Systrom says all private accounts will remain private and photos will only be seen by users you’ve approved to follow you.

Instagram just wanted to give you a chance to respond. Are you buying it?

Systrom says that one of the reasons that the changes announced yesterday won’t go into effect for 30 days “is that we wanted to make sure you had an opportunity to raise any concerns. You’ve done that and are doing that, and that will help us provide the clarity you deserve.”

If that were the case, the company easily could have polled users or allowed them to vote, but even if they did that, Facebook (the owner of Instagram) has given users the middle finger recently, even after an extensive poll, saying the results don’t count. You see, users recently were asked to vote about whether or not users would actually get a vote regarding privacy policies; because the nearly 700,000 votes submitted by users (mostly in opposition to taking voting rights away) accounted for roughly 1.0 percent of the entire user base, and Facebook bylaws require 30 percent of users to vote in order for the vote to be binding, users of the social media giant no longer have the right to vote on any privacy policies. Middle finger.

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This is a nasty precedent to set, and likely the reason that until the terms of service on Instagram change, many are not buying it, and even big brands are publicly opting not to post any more pictures on the site until the actual changes are made, implying that there is a new distrust of Instagram, with a bad taste left in user’s mouth after this stunt was pulled, even if they roll it back.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. joemspake

    December 19, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    I don’t know why people are so upset.  We get to use all our favorite platforms for free; but there is no free lunch.  If you are going to play you eventually have to give up something.  I have deleted my Instagram profile and content.

  2. halffiction

    December 20, 2012 at 1:53 am

    “Legal documents are easy to misinterpret”? LOL. I thought the whole point of legal was so they were impossible to misinterpret.

  3. start up business blog

    December 20, 2012 at 2:53 am

    I panic when i heard about this new. Well thanks for clarifying this issue.

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