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Instagram’s invasive new policies may cause mass exodus

Instagram has updated their policies, and in short order, your photos and your childrens’ photos can be used in ads without your permission, and the only way out is to delete your account by next month.



Instagram makes a huge change

Instagram has released a new intellectual property policy that allows the company to sell users’ photographs without paying or notifying them, effective January 16th, only three months after the completion of Facebook acquiring the photo sharing app.

Now, according to its new Terms Of Use, “Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, 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.”

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

What you must know about the new policies

First, it should be known that the Terms allow Instagram to share information about its users with Facebook as well as outside affiliates and advertisers, which is not alarming in and of itself, as that seems to be how all social networks behave and monetize now.

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Slightly more alarming is that a picture you take of yourself, your child, your home, your work, your friends, etc. can be used in any advertisement they wish, without notifying you, compensating you, or requesting permission in any form. The new terms allow them to monetize your pictures, no matter the content.

Additionally, ads may not be labeled as ads, and it may not be clear in the long run that your images are being used by Instagram, and not pushed into ads by you. No matter the privacy settings on your account, even if you lock it down to completely private, it isn’t private from Instagram, and your photos are still subject to being used as they wish. This is not a promise that they will, but reserving the right to do so is a hint that they might.

Most alarming is the fact that underage users are not exempt. Instagram is dominated by children, so the idea that even though Instagram knows their age via Facebook login, they are not making an exception for these users, which is surprising and appalling.

How do you opt out? Delete your account. That’s it, no privacy settings, no opt out, just a complete wiping out of all of your pictures and community clout you’ve built up. Users who continue to upload photos after January 16th, and subsequently delete their accounts, will be granting the company the “irrevocable right to sell those images in perpetuity,” so it is most certainly time sensitive.

The impact of these new policies

This will very likely have an impact not only on user behavior, but the number of users, with tech analysts already publicly denouncing the photo sharing app and deleting their accounts, urging others to follow. One tech blog calls Instagram’s move “a suicide note.” Parents aware of the new policy may remove their children from Instagram, because even if they sign up with a fake name and fake account, Instagram can still use the images to their liking. Suddenly, Twitter’s photo filters are looking a little more appealing…

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This new policy comes on the heels of Facebook users being allowed to vote on their right to vote in the future on how their personal information is handled, and the 669,000 votes (primarily opposed to the policy changes) were not heard, as Facebook requires 30 percent of users to cast ballots for a vote to be binding, and this vote only accounted for roughly 1.0 percent of total users.

The era of privacy is changing rapidly, led by the blatant disregard of Instagram and their parent company, Facebook. While Instagram is entertaining, and a great community builder, many question what policies will look like in two years, five years, and beyond, and if it is worth putting in the effort now when they may have to delete their account later over questionable privacy policies.

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. asamur

    December 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    @averyholton didn’t for FB sooooo why now?

    • averyholton

      December 18, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      @asamur Good question. Different functions. More expectation of privacy. Less gradual intrusion.

      • asamur

        December 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm

        @averyholton I’m honestly curious because people don’t seem to care about privacy anymore…

        • averyholton

          December 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm

          @asamur very true. Always seem caught off guard, too.

  2. averyholton

    December 18, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    @maxthompson #tweetsfrommygrandma

    • maxthompson

      December 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm

      @averyholton ORLY? Your grandma must be very hip to the next wave of big things.

      • averyholton

        December 18, 2012 at 12:37 pm

        @maxthompson Biased opinion!!!

  3. lydialabat

    December 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    @AgentGenius does IG already have the data base that’s in there even if people exit

  4. WayneHarriman

    December 19, 2012 at 7:50 am

    I’m still half asleep, but I could swear that I just heard on the news that they are removing that language from the TOS. Was I hearing things??

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