So, Instagram released an update to their Terms of Service today that caused an uproar on the twitterverse and on Facebook with the core matter at hand being one of ownership and privacy. In part the ToS update read as follows:
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. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf.
Now, that language pretty clearly spells out that Instagram may at any time allow another business to use your photos in “sponsored content” or “advertisements” provided that they are paying Instagram for the right to do so. What it also subtly says is that you don’t own the content you post on Instagram.
My read on this is that Instagram was planning to add “paid content” (a la twitter) to your stream and that other businesses could use your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata) in such content (adverts) in streams. So if I were following a particular user, that user’s content might show up as part of an advertisement in my stream.
Well, the Internets were afire with anger over this and later in the day Instagram issued a statement on their blog that said essentially that it was all a big misunderstanding and that no harm was meant. They further suggested that legal documents are difficult to read and understand and that they in no way said that they’d sell your photos.
That’s right, you just can’t read English. You are not smart enough to wade through legal speak and see that they really weren’t intending to sell your stuff.
Well, I’m not buying that cover up. And neither should you.
Instagram needs to make money. There’s only so much money that can be made on a service that is entirely dependent upon handhelds as the content delivery vehicle. To this day I don’t see any form of revenue for Instagram.
Lets face it, most people do not read the Terms of Service or Privacy Policies of most of the services that they use on the web. This plays to the advantage of those running the services in that they count on the fact that if people don’t read the ToS when they register, they damn sure won’t read it when they are updated.
Instagram got caught. And rather than do the honorable thing and admit that they messed up, they tried to cover it up by saying that it was misunderstanding.
We’ve seen this before and we’ll see it again. In the mean time, I’ve decided (along with a ton of others) that perhaps Flickr is a better place for me to share my photos. You know what, it worked great for many years. So great, that I paid for a “Pro” account 3 years ago and continue to do so today.
Flickr gives me several options for copyright including “All Rights Reserved” as well as several creative commons attributions. And if I’m paying for the product, its much less likely that I’ll become the product.
So, like many others I deleted my Instagram account today.
Next up, Facebook.