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Instagram comments on changes in Terms of Service, they're not selling your photos

Instagram users were in a uproar this morning after the company made changes to their terms of service. Namely, what they can do with your content that you upload to the service. Instagram has now commented on their on blog to clarify what those changes mean and how they really affect end users.

The concern Instagram users had was with a portion of their terms of service that Instagram is claiming was not worded well and could easily be misinterpreted. Namely, who owns your photos and what Instagram can and can't do with them without your permission.

Where ownership rights are concerned, Instagram's co-founder Kevin Systrom, had this to say:

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.

When it comes to advertising, Instagram does claim to be a business, which they are. And as such, they need to have ways to sustain that business in the form of advertising. They've made it clear in their latest comments that they don't intend on spamming users with banner ads but allowing business owners and individuals to promote their content in order to gain a more meaningful following.

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.

As far as privacy is concerned, Instagram has publicly stated that if your photos are private, they will remain that way. In other words, you don't have to worry about your boss seeing an advertisement for sun screen where you are in a 2-piece bathing suit with your friends on the beach.

Either way, if you're still concerned over Instagram's new terms of service, you can always back up your photos and delete your account. Otherwise, for end users, it may not be much of a change at all. We aren't sure at this point if things are getting reworded due to public outcry or if it really was just a misinterpretation.

You can hit the source link to read the rest of Kevin Systrom's blog posting on Instagram. Then come back and let us know whether or not you'll be keeping your Instagram account or if you're debating deleting it.

Source: Instagram

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

  • I read the blog post. It all sounds like a bunch of double talk to avoid coming right out and saying that Instagram will use your photos to make money. They may not sell your photo to somebody. But, they will charge that somebody for displaying an "ad" to a potential customer, wherein Instagram uses a picture of yours. So, not sell your picture. Just sell the use of your picture. Sounds like splitting hairs to me.
  • And they still are asking for the right to sell the photos. And point of fact, they don't need to "sell" them to be something a user doesn't want. It's bad even if it's used for free if it's used in a manner you don't like, like say the manner violates your political beliefs or your religious beliefs.
  • Don't trust any of them, they are all lawyers and Ad people that means CROOKS. THEY WOULD SELL YOUR GRANDMOTHER TO PUT A BUCK IN THEIR OWN POCKET Beware, and Be afraid
  • @instagram: “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.” Me: “WTF? NO!” instagram: “Legal documents are easy to misinterpret. What I meant to say was…”
  • I really hope the less people are not fooled by this. People should understand that this changes nothing. They are still asking for you to license them the right to use and sell your images and use them in promotional work. The original statement was NEVER a transfer of ownership of a copyright in the images. All they have said here is restated the original. Think about it. If everything was the same they'd never need a new Terms of Service agreement. This language is damage control. It's like when politicians say, "i'm sorry if i offended anyone" rather then getting to the heart of the matter which is are you sorry you said it in the first place. Instagram isn't changing what they said. They are telling you, "oh you misinterpreted." But they aren't yet changing the language. I'm sure the will at some point but there is a reason they use the term, "We do not have plans for..." and "it is not our intention to sell your photos." But then you don't need language referring to a grant of a "license" at all. You don't need a license to bring in ads. You do to reproduce a users image as that is copying. Regardless, i'm sure they'll try to use more language that sounds like they've gained no right in hopes that with time the anger will die down or people will simply be fooled. But now that it's facebook they have pressure to monetize instagram, and like facebook they really want to mind data like google does. Problem is unlike google they aren't a search engine other then the spot where people search for hashtags. Regardless. I actually like looking at other peoples pictures of their daily lives but i just started using it a few months ago and i can easily quit. something else will come along. Kik said it wants to be the instagram of video. Hell it may just have an opening to be the new instagram.
  • Yep, changes nothing at all. Complete BS. Love how they don't "intend" to sell your photos .... Please. I hope everyone that is deleting their Instagram is also deleting their Facebook.
  • Thats why I take the intiative to watermark all my instagram photos!
  • That's why I waited to delete my account, I'm still not posting personal pics on there.
  • It's not about your actual photos. It's about the metadata attached to those photos. Including the location of each photo, public or private. The better to serve up targeted ads to you, for businesses near your home, where you work, where you celebrate, and where you vacation. From Rene's previous blog post, in Instagram's own words: "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."