Instagram are changing their Terms of Service. How will this effect you? What do you need to know about the changes? Is it time to leave Instagram?
I was quite late with Instagram, I knew what it was and saw friends posting cool looking filtered photos everywhere. But having chosen Android as operating system Instagram wasn’t available to me until later. By the time I joined I was really quite excited about the forum, as I am with most social media even if I initially hesitate and question the need for another platform. But yeah, I got sucked in here as well.
Anyway, soon after, in April this year it was announced that Facebook had bought the photo sharing app. It annoyed me a bit, but after several months passed and I still hadnt noticed any dramatic change with Instagram I happily continued using it. Until the other week.
But before we ‘paint the devil on the wall’, as we say in Sweden, let’s look at what this new policy and terms really says.
Keep yourself informed
As with all Social media, it’s an advantage to be aware of how you use it and what you have agreed to by using it. To at least think about privacy is important whether you chose to share a lot or not, let it be a choice by you and not by others. I am a person that have decided to share quite a lot I suppose. But it’s not out of ignorance (even if it might have started that way). Being aware of social media platforms functionality enables you to control how you share with different groups in your life – you might want to share different things with your work mates than with your close family for example.
OK – so we have established that it is important to be informed. Problem is that the information provided isn’t always very easy to digest. It most cases it is presented as a long document with sentences stretching over a whole paragraph leaving you confused after the first comma with all its legal jargon. So let’s have a little closer look at a few paragraphs of the new Terms of Service that is worth noting because it might affect the way you choose to use your account from now on. It has made me think, that’s for sure. Even though I haven’t decided which route to go down yet.
The first sentence under Rights makes you feel at ease at first, saying;
“Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service.”
Great, so that’s all good right? I think the biggest fear for most is knowing that someone else OWNS your photos. I mean, in reality, what are they going to do with your family outing photos from 2005? The worry might be exaggerated. But just KNOWING it is out of your control, is indeed a worry. So does that sentence mean that Instagram is not claiming your photos – yes, but look at what comes next;
Instagram can sell your photos
Instead, EVERYONE owns your photos potentially. Now that, my friends, could be a real worry. All your posted content will end up under a license which can be transferred and sub-licensed – which means that anyone can claim your photos and use it in whichever way they want for example in an ad campaign without paying you a cent. Yes, that’s right.
Personally I might not be terribly worried that my lunch photos or posing self-portraits (mostly of me on the train) will be snatched. But some users put real effort into their photos. Some professionals use it as marketing, I’m thinking of photographers mainly or maybe fashion bloggers. It could be a real disaster if their photos ended up used in an ad campaign and they weren’t compensated for it or even made aware. Instead Instagram is being paid using the license agreement you’ve agreed to when not bothering reading the new Terms of Service (or understanding the implications). The second point in the Terms of Service says this;
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.
So what do should you do?
I changed my account to a private account a while back, which means my lunch photos will be protected from ending up under this license agreement. Phew!
You might want to look through the agreement carefully and make your choice about your future use of Instagram. You have until 16 January 2013 when the new Terms of Service takes effect.
I must say I’m a bit disappointed. Using social media should be fun and easy! These Facebook big brother-tricks just turn you off, doesn’t it? Adding to this bad taste in my mouth is the ads they will start pumping out on Instagram soon.
Maybe it’s time to look elsewhere. What will fill the void? Perhaps a return to Twitter (I’ve heard they have photo filters now as well). But I don’t really use Twitter privately as I do Instagram. Maybe I should try Flickr again, their app is supposed to be great? And leave Instagram all together (and yes, it’s easier to leave Instagram than Facebook so don’t worry there! Yet’)
Let me know how you think about these changes and if you are going to stay with Instagram?