Tags: instagram | sell | user | photos

In Wake of Outrage, Instagram Now Says It Won’t Sell Users’ Photos

Wednesday, 19 Dec 2012 11:13 AM

By Megan Anderle

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After a firestorm of protest on Tuesday, Instagram says it's not true that the image-sharing platform will sell users’ photos without notice or compensation.

Invoking the viral tantrum was a change in Facebook-owned Instagram's privacy policy that states: “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.”

After thousands of outraged reactions, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom tried to clear up things on the company’s blog in a “Thank you, and we’re listening” post less than 24 hours after the new policy was released.

The blog post wasn’t written as a retraction or an apology, but rather as a clarification and broke silence after hundreds of requests for comment from media outlets and users.

Although the policy change as stated seemed pretty clear to many users, Instagram says the legalese of the policy has misinformed the public.

“It is not our intention to sell your photos," says Systrom. "We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.”

“Legal documents are easy to misinterpret," Systrom wrote. "Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram.”

Reactions to Systrom's post were mixed, with some users tweeting they were relieved and would continue using the app and others tweeting that they don’t buy the company’s latest statement.

Meanwhile, Instagram competitors like mobile photo-sharing app 23snaps and image hosting website Flickr have jumped in and are touting their services as user-protective alternatives.

The main issue for Instagram users was copyright. With the purported changes, users would relinquish all their rights at the company’s profit. Instagram sought to dispel that notion, saying users still own the rights to all of their photos, and that users’ artistry will continue to be respected.

Some users expressed concern that no one was exempt from the changes – that even photos from private accounts could be used in advertisements. Systrom clarified that private accounts will remain private, though, and that only a private user’s followers will be able to see posted photos.

“We hope that this simple control makes it easy for everyone to decide what level of privacy makes sense,” Systrom wrote.

The new policy, which was slated to take effect on Jan. 16, said that the only way users could opt out of the new changes is if they deleted their accounts before then. If they deleted their accounts after Jan. 16, the company could use their photos in perpetuity.

Instagram, launched in October 2010, has more than 100 million users.

Thousands were still outraged on Wednesday, tweeting things like “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product” and many deleted their accounts.

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