Instagram seeks right to sell access to photos to advertisers

Instagram screenshot Instagram was bought by Facebook in April 2012

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Facebook's photo-sharing site Instagram has updated its privacy policy giving it the right to sell users' photos to advertisers without notification.

Unless users delete their Instagram accounts by a deadline of 16 January, they cannot opt out.

The changes also mean Instagram can share information about its users with Facebook, its parent company, as well as other affiliates and advertisers.

The move riled social media users, with one likening it to a "suicide note".

The new policies follow Facebook's record $1bn (£616m; 758 euro) acquisition of Instagram in April.

Facebook's vice-president of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson earlier this month had said: "Eventually we'll figure out a way to monetise Instagram."

A notice updating the privacy policy on the Instagram site said: "We may share your information as well as information from tools like cookies, log files, and device identifiers and location data with organisations that help us provide the service to you... (and) third-party advertising partners."

"To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you," it said in its terms of use.

But Instagram said that its aim was to make it easier to work with Facebook.

"This means we can do things like fight spam more effectively, detect system and reliability problems more quickly, and build better features for everyone by understanding how Instagram is used," it said in a statement.

'Suicide note'

However, the updated policy will not change how it handles photo ownership or who is able to see a user's pictures, it added.

But the new policy has triggered a backlash among social media users, with some threatening to quit.

One user tweeted: "Good bye #instagram. Your new terms of service are totally stupid and nonsense. Good luck playing with the big boys."

New York-based photographer Clayton Cubbit wrote on his account that the new policy was "Instagram's suicide note".

Analysts said that the new policies could deal a blow to Facebook's reputation and alienate some users.

Richard Holway, chairman of TechMarketView, said: "Every time Facebook has altered their privacy policy it has led to a backlash and they've been forced to retreat. They tamper with people's privacy at a cost. People are very upset."

Alan Pelz-Sharpe, research director at 451 Research, added: "It's a barefaced tactic that Facebook and Instagram have taken, and one that will likely meet with many challenges, legally and ethically.

"The fact is that Facebook has critical mass, and is quite confident that such moves may cause uproar, but not a flight of business.

"Larger firms like Facebook are essentially trailblazing before specific regulations can catch up with them, and as we have seen with Google in the past, regulations and laws have limited real impact on their business operations - so they tend to move forward regardless of opposition."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    I would guess if your name was "Getty Images"££$$,they just might think twice!?

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    Let me get this straight Instagram have right to sell photos without permission but if I take pictures of some celebrity I break the law...Interesting

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    All...the T&C's state that if you close your account "...all other data will not be accessible through your account..." OK however it then goes on to state that "...those materials and data may persist and appear within the Service...".

    Basically its irrelevent whether you delete your account as the photos are already on Instagram servers and can be used by them .

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    To all those that are taking the high moral ground about intellectual property, when you sign up to a service you agree to the terms of serivce dictated by the service provider, you options, stay and by continuing to use the service you are in de facto agreement or delete all your content and close your account.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    "adios instagram. my photos may be awful, but they are MINE."

    Now you now haw the artist of all those illeagally downloaded song feel.Instagram have now more right to sell your photos we have to right click and save as or download, But we've all done it.

    The internet shouldn't be but is one of those place where normal rules don't apply.

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    So Instagram would not own these picture, as ownership may infrige certain laws, but it would create its own "Getty Images" site and undercut the competition, at the same time amasing a potentially huge revenue stream.

    So I would have to pay to use my own photo?

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    Interestingly people have no issues with Google using their data as they see fit. Witness the number of gmail accounts.

    This isn't a surprise, Facebook are using the membership of Instagram to road test FB privacy changes.

    If they don't lose too many subscribers expect this to be rolled out to FB as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    This is a good example of exactly why I don't do facebook or any other social networking. It baffles me why so many people willingly put their whole lives online. Privacy has gone out the window for most young people these days. It's madness! What they forget is that people don't need a 'right' to steal your photos and your info. They're doing it anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    Instagram removes all effort from photography anyway and now it's selling the pics, can you even enlarge a mobile phone pic enough to advertise with it? Fair enough, snappign away with a mobile is fun and i'm sure instagram is too but it's not a platform for photographers as far as i'm concerned, you can't take a decent picture on a mobile phone. .

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    I've thought for some time that there's something a bit dodgy about these photo sharing sites. I joined Flickr some time ago, with an idea to put up some photos of a friend's wedding so the guests could share. It took ages, I was limited to a handful at a time by the site, and I gave up. But I've no idea how to close this account or whether they can do anything with my pictures.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    In ernest, I'm not really bothered by this. I mean it's not like I'm currently making any money off my instagram photos, I never thought I would make any money off my instagram photos.

    If I wanted to sell photos for a living I'd set up my own portfolio site that I fully manage (and pay for) and can make a profit off. If instagram want to sell my instagram photo's, it's no skin off my back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    @67.The Realist

    "Under copyright law Facebook cannot sell the photo's as they are YOUR copyrighted property. However, almost nobody understands copyright law and it is very unlikely anybody will challenge them over this"

    You're right, even you don't understand copyright law at all.

    A company is legally entitled to sell your copyrighted photographs if you have accepted Ts&Cs which state so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Will be deleting my Instagram account if this doesn't change!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    As an example, having a picture taken while your at a party and not knowing its posted publicly online is bad enough but possibly having that image freely used to make money for these companies is going to the extreme. I do question how this will be possible in the UK as using personal images in public without express permission from the people in the pitures is supposed to be illegal ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    @89 bobonacus "The subject of a photograph has no rights (unless granted separately) to that photograph .... "

    a plain unedited photo, yes i agree. but if u edited any of the photos either by altering gamma, retouching, sharpening etc, then you have the right to claim artistic value & because of that you have all the rights u require to enforce a copyright on your own pics & can claim.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Instagram is a free service, if you aren't the customer, you are the product and when facebook has a billion dollar investment shareholders will want profit despite the individual rights of the users.

    If you want to keep associating with facebook get used to it. They follow a pattern.

    Introduce absurd change, to uproar
    "Grudgingly" change to a slightly less evil system
    People think they've won

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    If they also said they'd split the profits 50-50 with the user, then I imagine a lot of people wouldn't be bothered. The fact that they want to keep all the cash for themselves means they'll see a mass exodus.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    The biggest problem here is whether all the people in the image actually want themselves to be 'sold'. If a third party takes a photo of someone and then posts it on their account and then someone subsequently buys the image, there should be some recourse. I cannot help but think there will be intellectual property or copyright suits flying left right and centre.
    Boycott the service!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    101. thedukeofhunslet
    > Cloud storage will be the next big shock. No one makes a profit from it so how can they do it? By selling your valuable data.

    DropBox are profitable off real monthly service charges through the freemium model, that's why I trust them not to get up to any shenanigans.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    it's NOTHING to do with copyright ... it's in the T&C (starting 16th Jan) that you give them these rights .... instagram are doing nothing illegal, immoral yes, not illegal though

    watermarking your images is an option though you can't do that easily in instagram, you'd have to do it outside of instagram and delete and re-upload the image


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