Instagram Changes Terms of Service, Now Has Rights To Profit From Your Pics

In a change that will prove laughably unpopular, Instagram has altered its terms of service so that it can sell your photos to other companies for the purposes of advertising. The new policy stresses that users own their content, but the language is clear that Instagram can take what you own and do with it just about whatever they like.

The policy states in part:

Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, except that you can control who can view certain of your Content and activities on the Service as described in the Service's Privacy Policy...

The next section below that reads in part:

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.

As galling as this is for users, it’s further unsettling that minors’ photos fall under these same guidelines. Instagram’s terms say that if you’ve signed up for the service and are under 18 (you have to be 13 to have an account at all), you “represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision” on your behalf.

Instagram money

This is nothing surprising, though, considering that Facebook now owns Instagram; users have been uncomfortable with Facebook’s data-gathering practices for a long time, and this is really just an extension of that way of doing business.

However, there’s something far more invasive about losing control over who sees and uses your photos as opposed to your likes, not to mention the fact that Instagram is going to make a lot of money off of selling your photos (well, somebody’s photos at least) without offering a dime for compensation.

Further, there’s a sense that Instagram users have fallen victim to the old bait and switch. This is another tactic cribbed from Facebook whereby you get people heavily involved with using the service and then dramatically change the ToS and/or privacy policy. That makes it difficult for a user to walk away, both emotionally and practically--what is one to do with all those photos? Migrate them somewhere? What a pain.

In reality, what is most likely going to happen is that most Instagram users will be angry about this development and carp about it for a couple of weeks, a few will leave the service, and the rest will carry on with vintage-toned duckface bathroom mirror pics as normal.