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#Boycottinstagram is trending on Twitter and with good reason. Now that Facebook officially owns Instagram, they can use your pictures to sell and use however they want, royalty-free, and short of deleting your Instagram account, you have waived your rights and can’t opt out. Facebook has proven time and time again that they care little about user privacy, but now they are blatantly stating that they can use your own content for revenue, and they don’t care a lick about paying royalties.
The new policy update that particularly struck a nerve with Instagram users is this section:
“By displaying or publishing (“posting”) any Content on or through the Instagram Services, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content, including without limitation distributing part or all of the Site in any media formats through any media channels, except Content not shared publicly (“private”) will not be distributed outside the Instagram Services.”
Twitter users en mass expressed outrage at this new policy, as user after user reported that they had shut down their Instagram account. #BoycottInstagram quickly took off as users took to Twitter to log their complaints:
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@churchplantersf *POOF* Instagram account vaporized. As a client of a free service, I do NOT mind being sold-TO; I do mind being RE-sold! #BoycottInstagram
@ghostofbouvet #BoycottInstagram Alternatively, always ‘watermark’ your pictures with a nice diagonal ‘Screw you instagram’ right across the middle.
@BarrettAll Instagram underestimated how passionate people are about pictures of their food. #BoycottInstagram.
@thescratt #boycottInstagram / You can always go back *when* they change their T&Cs. But they won’t unless you #boycottInstagram.
And it seems that @thescratt wasn’t far of the mark because, as this article was being written, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom posted a blog post entitled, “Thank you, and we’re listening.” The full text of the post is as follows:
I’m writing this today to let you know 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.
Legal documents are easy to misinterpret. So I’d like to address specific concerns we’ve heard from everyone:
Advertising on Instagram From the start, Instagram was created to become a business. Advertising is one of many ways that Instagram can become a self-sustaining business, but not the only one. 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. 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.
To provide context, we envision a future where both users and brands alike may promote their photos & accounts to increase engagement and to build a more meaningful following. 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.
The language we proposed also raised question 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. Our main goal is to avoid things likes advertising banners you see in other apps that would hurt the Instagram user experience. Instead, we want to create meaningful ways to help you discover new and interesting accounts and content while building a self-sustaining business at the same time.
Ownership Rights Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. 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.
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.
Privacy Settings Nothing has changed about the control you have over who can see your photos. If you set your photos to private, Instagram only shares your photos with the people you’ve approved to follow you. We hope that this simple control makes it easy for everyone to decide what level of privacy makes sense.
I am grateful to everyone for their feedback and that we have a community that cares so much. We need to be clear about changes we make — this is our responsibility to you. One of the main reasons these documents don’t take effect immediately, but instead 30 days from now, 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. Thank you for your help in making sure that Instagram continues to thrive and be a community that we’re all proud of. Please stay tuned for updates coming soon.
Kevin Systrom co-founder, Instagram
Despite Systrom’s apology, many are still dubious and suspicious of the fact that this all happened right after Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram was finalized. It seems that it did not take long for privacy-violating Facebook to tarnish Instagram’s name.