Backlash forces Instagram to backtrack on photos

The photo-sharing site, which hoped to make money from pictures that users post, has dropped a plan to sell those images to advertisers.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 19, 2012 1:03PM

thestreet logoBy Chris Ciaccia,Illustration of an Instagram photo of the Facebook website app © Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesTheStreet


Facebook (FB), known for upsetting users with constant changes to its policies, has another headache to deal with.


Instagram, the photo-sharing site Facebook acquired earlier this year, planned to change its terms of service as of Jan. 16 to allow photos to be used in advertisements on Instagram and, potentially, on Facebook. Under the change, the photographer wouldn't receive compensation, while Instagram and Facebook would.


Instagram users were justifiably outraged, and some deleted their accounts. The backlash forced Instagram to beat a hasty retreat; it decided not to grant itself permission for royalty-free use of its users' images in advertisements.


Instagram, in response, tweeted: "We've heard you that the updates to our Privacy Policy & Terms of Service are raising a lot of questions. We'll have more to share very soon."


The company posted an update on its blog, saying that the changes are being misinterpreted and that it was working on updating the language to make sure it was clear. 

More significantly, Instagram conceded that users own the photos, not Instagram itself.

"I always want you to feel comfortable sharing your photos on Instagram, and we will always work hard to foster and respect our community and go out of our way to support its rights," wrote Kevin Systrom, a co-founder of Instagram.

Love fades 

Nonetheless, many users were up in arms as online privacy seemed poised to enter a new dimension.


I did an informal poll on Facebook and Twitter regarding the privacy changes, and 75% of those surveyed on Twitter said they would delete their accounts, had already done so or would do so if the terms aren't rescinded. 


Celebrities have already taken to voicing their displeasure. Actress Tiffani Thiessen of "Saved By the Bell" fame tweeted she would be deleting her account. "Really sad to have to end my luv 4 @instagram. Will be deleting my account due 2 their ridiculous new terms," Thiessen wrote.


Other companies may benefit, including Yahoo's (YHOO) Flickr, which recently went through a significant update and redesign.


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Dec 19, 2012 3:35PM

Thats ok we still dont trust instagram and we will still be closing our affiliation with the site, greedy once will inherantly turn to greed again in the future,

Dec 19, 2012 4:38PM

The funny part about this is the WAY he worded his post: "We're sorry that you are so stupid that the legalese was confusing to you"   No, it wasn't confusing, it was quite clear...


 I read the TOS on their OWN website, not a review and not someone's interpretation... I read it. It said CLEARLY that the could use your photos in paid advertisements from 3rd party partners without further compensation or acknowledgement to you.


They also said that they are able to post advertisements to YOUR feed disguised as your friends, and that potentially clicking a picture you thought a friend posted, they could forward you to a 3rd party partner site, which in turn could capture your profile information, including your username and password (so that in turn they could post to YOUR feed and make people think you posted it..,. happens on FB all the time)


THirdly they said after Jan 14th, if you close your account, that your pohotos will stay in their database for an unspecified amount of time, and that they are no longer bound by the privacy settings you had, because you aren't a customer.


These things were VERY clear... don't come out here under the guise of placating the users, while in the same breath calling them stupid and confused.  You got your hands caught in the cookie jar, just admit it, and let's move on.

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