While the ensuing public backlash prompted Instagram’s co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom to publicly state “It is not our intention to sell your photos,” the picture remains blurry when it comes to the company’s true intent.
On Monday, Instagram updated its Terms of Service, scheduled to go into effect on January 16, 2013. The new provisions found in the “Rights” section change the way the company can share its users’ information and submissions with third-party advertisers. The two most notable changes that sparked public outrage state:
“To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business 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.”
As soon as CNET broke the story, disgruntled users responded in a flash. Instagram’s most followed user Kim Kardashian has already expressed her displeasure, tweeting “I really loved Instagram :-( I need to review this new policy. I don't think its fair.” She joins celebrities including Pink, LeBron James, Anderson Cooper, Seth Green, and Mia Farrow in threatening to cancel their accounts if Instagram doesn’t change its mind.
Although Systrom has not retracted the changed policies, he has published a blog post stating that “Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos” and admitting “the language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement.” According to Systrom, the company’s main goal is to avoid “advertising banners….that would hurt the Instagram user experience” and “instead . . . create meaningful ways to help you discover interesting accounts and content while building a self-sustaining business at the same time.”