Instagram has responded to a backlash over its new user terms and says it will not sell users’ photographs.
The popular online photography app, owned by Facebook, published new privacy conditions and user terms on Tuesday, sparking a furore among some users who vowed to close their accounts.
The new terms appeared to suggest Instagram had granted itself permission to start using users’ photographs in adverts royalty-free.
The paragraph of the new rules that caused most controversy read: “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.”
But Instagram sought to clarify its intentions on Wednesday, saying it will not sell users’ photos.
“Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram,” Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom wrote on the Instagram blog.
“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.”
Instagram also rejected claims user photographs would be used in adverts.
“We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question,” it added.
The company suggested its real aim in updating the user terms was to allow individual users and companies to pay to ‘promote’ their content, in the same way that’s currently allowed on Facebook and Twitter.
“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,” it added.
Instagram, the popular photo-sharing service that Facebook bought this year, was the target of a storm of outrage on Twitter and other sites after a change in its user agreement hinted that it might use shared photos in ads.
It’s not clear that anything substantive has changed in Instagram’s new terms of service, which were posted on Monday and go into effect on January 16.
As is the case before, the service reserves the right to use shared photos in any matter it likes, though the photographers keep “ownership” of the photos.
The updated terms of service say users agree that their photos could be used “in connection with paid or sponsored content.”
The current terms say the service can place ads “on, about or in conjunction with your Content.”
The fast-growing site is a popular way to share photos from cellphones. Facebook Inc bought Instagram in September.
The cash-and-stock deal was worth $US1 billion ($A952 million) when it was announced in April, though that fell to about $740 million by the time it was completed because of Facebook’s falling stock price.
The updated terms suggests that Facebook wants to integrate Instagram into its ad-serving system, which can, for instance, promote an item by telling users that their friends “Like” it. The new terms make it clearer that Instagram could use your photos to market to your friends.
Twitter users were vowing to cancel their Instagram accounts in response to the policy change, complaining that the new terms would essentially let the service sell people’s photos for ads.
Pink, Mia Farrow and Taraji P Henson are among the celebrities tweeting that they are turning their backs on the application.
In a post on Twitter on Tuesday morning, singer Pink writes, “I WILL BE QUITTING INSTAGRAM TODAY. WHAT A BUMMER. YOU SHOULD ALL READ THEIR NEW RULES.”
Actress Henson also sent out a warning to her followers, alongside a link to an article detailing the updated conditions.
If this is true I will have to delete my acct (account). you have until January 16th to do so,” she tweeted while Farrow admits she has no problem dumping the photo-enhancement technology, writing, “A small pleasure: deleting my Instagram app.”
They weren’t the only celebrities taking action over the new rules - former House star Kal Penn tweets, “Sorry I gotta delete you, Instagram. I liked your filters“, and rapper Xzibit revealed he was disappointed by the altered privacy conditions: “Say it aint so instagram,debo (steal) everyones pics and then turn around and sell them to 3rd parties with no shared revenue (sic)? deleting my instagram”.
However, Blink-182 rocker Mark Hoppus is undecided about continuing with the app, posing the question: “what are we going to do about our instagram accounts?“