A day after a firestorm of social media anger was unleashed upon Instagram over its new terms of service, the company has said that it’s going to re-think its policies, particularly the one where they say advertisers can co-opt user photos without compensation to the user.
In a blog post titled “Thank You, We’re Listening,” co-founder Kevin Systrom tried to address the issues that caused so much trouble.
“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,” he writes.
“Let’s say a business wanted to promote their account to gain more followers and Instagram was able to feature them in some way. In order to help make a more relevant and useful promotion, it would be helpful to see which of the people you follow also follow this business. In this way, some of the data you produce — like the actions you take (eg, following the account) and your profile photo — might show up if you are following this business,” he continues. He says that users own their content (that hasn’t changed) and privacy controls remain the same.
CNET editor Dan Ackerman, talking with CBS News, says this sort of confusion is bound to happen when lawyers write these terms of service. The broad “land grab” nature of the text causes issues. And there’s the ongoing push and pull in the data privacy debate. People are putting lots of stuff out there for all to see, but want to maintain some osort of control over their information. Meanwhile, these companies want to make money, and that data is incredibly valuable.
Even with reassurances, many people are planning to leave the service. A number of celebs have already vowed to drop Instagram, including Jordin Sparks and Kevin Hart. Not to mention celebs like Kim Kardashian and Anderson Cooper who have said they’ve got some thinking to do. If you’re also thinking about dumping the service, The Washington Post suggests that you first download your photos then take a look around at the alternatives. In fact, those alternatives — like Yahoo’s Flickr and Twitter with its new bells and whistles — may be the big winners here.
Will you be switching up your photo-sharing service?
Update 12/21: Instagram has announced that it will go back to the original language of its advertising policy. “Although some users claimed victory, it’s not clear that they won any real concessions from the company. What is clear is that the photo-sharing service has lost some of its luster, and it may need more than a new filter to win it back,” writes SocialTimes.