Instagram Users and Privacy Advocates Riled by New Terms of Service

Despite panicked reports regarding recent changes to Instagram’s terms of service, The Verge notes that the Facebook-owned photo-sharing service always had an expansive license to use and copy images, not unlike the agreements of other Web services that store user data. There has been an uproar to the following sentence, released earlier this week: “You agree that a business may pay Instagram to display your photos in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions without any compensation to you.”

However, users should realize that advertisers can only “display” photographs, not modify them. “An advertiser can pay Instagram to display your photos in a way that doesn’t create anything new — so Budweiser can put up a box in the timeline that says ‘our favorite Instagram photos of this bar!’ and put user photos in there, but it can’t take those photos and modify them, or combine them with other content to create a new thing,” explains the post.

Privacy advocates are not pleased with the idea of Instagram selling photographs without consent, but this is not so different from other social media terms of service agreements. While companies cannot modify photographs (for example, putting a logo on top of a picture), they likely can still put logos near the unaltered photograph.

“If all of this seems vaguely familiar, it’s because it’s basically what Facebook has been doing with Sponsored Posts for months now — advertisers can pay to ‘sponsor’ your posts in various categories to make sure they prominently appear in your friends’ News Feeds,” explains The Verge. “The main difference is that Facebook is a little more clear and careful about what can and can’t be promoted.”

In response to the change in terms, scheduled to take effect January 16, Instagram has followed up saying it will amend the new terms and has no plans to put users’ photos in ads.

“That said, Instagram maintains that it was created to become a business and would like to experiment with various forms of advertisements to make money,” explains CBS News in related coverage. “Instagram doesn’t currently run any ads. As of now, the free service has no way to make money and brings in no revenue to Facebook.”