“Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. 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,” Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom wrote on the service’s blog.
“The language we proposed also raised questions about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question.”
According to the proposed policy, people who use or access Instagram after Jan. 16 would have agreed that businesses may pay Instagram to display their data, including photos, username and other information, “in connection with paid or sponsored content and promotions.” Users would have also agreed Instagram didn’t have to share any money raised with such activities.
Any changes to the terms could affect users as young as 13, the minimum age for Instagram users.
David Murakami Wood, Canada Research Chair in surveillance studies at Queen’s University, said it was a matter of time before Instagram, which is free, began to look for compensation for its services.
In the past, people wouldn’t expect a business to develop their film photos for free, he said. “Most people, if they’re being honest with themselves, have to admit they can’t have expected this to continue forever.”
But the way Instagram appeared to suddenly claim ownership of users’ photos was “not a sensible way of doing business,” Murakami Wood said.
“In many cases, this is typical of Facebook … they tend to hide changes which are quite important to users’ data as kind of minor terms of service changes.”
On Tuesday, Instagram and Facebook were trending Canada-wide on Twitter, with many users threatening to delete their accounts.
“We’ve got to start having better negotiated consensual relationships about data, whether it’s photos (or) our personal information.”