With Facebook placing its filthy paws over Instagram, a change in the terms and conditions of the popular photo-sharing app was to be expected. I just don't think anyone had imagined that while claiming to wanting to better protect you, and prevent spam and abuse as we grow, as of January 16th, the service quietly gave itself the right to share and sell its users photos for profit.
Nestled within the Rights sections of Instagrams updated terms, Instagram and Facebook can share or sell photos (to ad agencies, for example) without notifying users or compensating them for it:
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.
[...] CNET notes that the policy presents a problem for businesses, too: That means that a hotel in Hawaii, for instance, could write a check to Facebook to license photos taken at its resort and use them on its Web site, in TV ads, in glossy brochures, and so on without paying any money to the Instagram user who took the photo.
The New York Times thinks that what Instagram is proposing may not even be legal:
2. You could star in an advertisement without your knowledge.
A section of the new terms of service, titled Rights, notes that Instagram will also be able to use your photographs and identity in advertisements. 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, the new terms say. This means that photographs uploaded to Instagram could end up in an advertisement on the service or on Facebook. In addition, someone who doesnt use Instagram could end up in an advertisement if they have their photograph snapped and shared on the service by a friend. Facebook already runs ads that make use of peoples activity on its site.
Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group in Washington, said that the use of a persons likeness in ads could run into some state laws protecting peoples privacy.
Most states have laws that limit the use of a persons ?name or likeness for commercial purposes without consent, Mr. Rotenberg said. The legal purpose is to allow people to obtain the commercial value of their images and endorsements, which is a big issue for celebrities and others, but also a reasonable concern for Facebook users whose images are used by Facebook to encourage friends to buy products and services.
Update: reportedly, Instagram and Facebook are backing down from the non-sense, but the deserved harsh criticism is still rolling in:
"The problem with Instagram and indeed with its parent company, Facebook, is that it is working by a form of deception: users are sucked in and upload all kinds of content, and then the company changes the rules and says -- 'we will own all of this (unless you tell us otherwise by a certain date),'" said Murakami Wood in a statement. Wood is a professor working at the university's Surveillance Studies Centre.
"It's particularly deceptive because they present it as minor terms of service changes. What we need is transparency on the part of these companies so users can make informed decisions. Informed consent is a basic principle of data protection and privacy provision."
In Instagram's statement, Systrom wrote that the two policies "help communicate as clearly as possible" the rules governing the site's community.
Above, National Geographic's take on Instagram new policies.
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