After Backlash, Instagram Backpedals A Bit On Changes To Terms Of Service & Privacy Policy



Yesterday, the folks at Instagram, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing service, announced upcoming changes to its terms of service that raised concerns about privacy and content-ownership. With some users already talking about deleting their accounts, Instagram has issued a maybe-we-didn’t-think-this-through update.

Stating that “legal documents are easy to misinterpret,” Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom writes in a blog post that “we’re listening and to commit to you that we will be doing more to answer your questions, fix any mistakes, and eliminate the confusion. As we review your feedback and stories in the press, we’re going to modify specific parts of the terms to make it more clear what will happen with your photos.”

Systrom breaks down the three major concerns brought up following yesterday’s announcement:
“Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram,” he explains. “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.”

By way of example, he says that if a business wanted to use Instagram to create a “more relevant and useful promotion, it would be helpful to see which of the people you follow also follow this business.” In that case, the fact that the user follows that business’s Instagram account would be used.

As for concerns that images uploaded by users could be used in advertising, Systrom says, “We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question.”

Which brings us to concern #2:

Ownership Rights:
“Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos,” writes Systrom. “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.”

Privacy Settings:
Systrom claims that there have been no changes to the control users have with regard to who can view their photos.

“If you set your photos to private, Instagram only shares your photos with the people you’ve approved to follow you,” he says.

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.”

We imagine that not every Instagram user will be calmed by Systrom’s statement, especially since these TOS changes come right on the heels of the company’s decision to cut ties to Twitter.

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