Instagram Rolls Back Terms of Service after Ownership Dustup

NEW YORK | Thursday, December 20th, 2012 11:17pm EDT

Instagram’s terms of service will revert to their original after a user backlash over image ownership.

The photo-sharing service has abandoned wording in its new terms-of-service agreement, users are concerned their photos could appear in advertisements. Photo: Raheem Nelson/Flickr

Instagram announced Thursday it has turned back to language in the advertising section of its terms of service that appeared when it was launched two years ago, Fox News reports.

“It became clear that we failed to fulfill what I consider one of our most important responsibilities – to communicate our intentions clearly. I am sorry for that, and I am focused on making it right,” Instagram’s CEO, Kevin Systrom, said in a statement.

“Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010.”

Some users were concerned that the move would mean that the popular service would allow users’ photos to be displayed in advertisements. Instagram’s CEO cleared up that concern.

“I want to be really clear: Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don’t own your photos – you do,” he said.

After learning of the new terms, many users announced that they would stop using the service.

Even after the statement, National Geographic and other famous companies said they would reevaluate their use of the service.

“Instagram needs to do some serious damage control to repair what was a pristine, ‘for the users’ brand,” Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told ABC News.

Regardless, Instagram, which was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion last year, will begin to start advertising. It just might do it in some different ways.

“Going forward, rather than obtain permission from you to introduce possible advertising products we have not yet developed, we are going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work,” Systrom said.

“Instagram, like all mobile properties, needs to drive revenue and they will turn to advertising,” Moorhead said. “This will turn away some users at first but, like Facebook and Twitter, users will adjust and not flee en mass.”

Instagram’s  policy, which was set to take effect next month, suggested that Facebook wanted to integrate Instagram into its ad-serving system.

“These services are publicly advertised as ‘free,’ but the free label masks costs to privacy, which include the responsibility of monitoring how these companies sell data, and even how they change policies over time,” explained Chris Hoofnagle, director of Information Privacy Programs at the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology.

The photo-sharing mobile service has grown popularity as it’s become a convenient to share photos from mobiles. The Instagram app, available for the iPhone and Android running devices, allows users a variety of filters to change photos.

Although many other apps also offer numerous tools for editing images, they don’t offer the sharing features and community aspects of Instagram.

The service has had a loyal following since before Facebook bought it. At the time the sparked concerns of the earliest users of the service that the social networking site would swallow up their beloved community.


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