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 346.

    This is the perfect example of how the gradual erosion of privacy and civil liberties operates in all spheres.

    Set up something under a certain understanding and then change it and hope that indifference and/or ignorance of the changes enables you to acquire that which you could not had you otherwise been up front initially.

  • rate this

    Comment number 345.

    Why are people getting all indignant? You quite happily post inane photos glossed over with canned filters onto a free web site. If you were really creative and/or valued your photography you'd be water-marking, using your own server or site etc. All this "social" networking is a way of fleecing sheep.

  • rate this

    Comment number 344.

    Gonna sign up to Instagram and upload 10000000 pics of my hairy buttocks. Looking forward to seeing what the "creatives" in adland do with those!

  • rate this

    Comment number 343.

    What a flagrant invasion of privacy, I'm closing my account with immediate effect. You can see the heavy hand of Facebook and Microsoft behind this, no real regard for users

  • rate this

    Comment number 342.

    What's the great issue here? If you've got a really good life and you have good friends, you do not need a sad act like Social Media to prove it. If you haven't got a lot of friends and you live on the net, WAKE UP! The best way to get your ID stolen or to be scammed is to live your life in Social Media sites - first place that the police and authorities look when hunting criminals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 341.

    Lots of very good points for and against this. Especially @Aidy #317 regarding T&C's. Worth a thought! I'm scratching my head thinking why they even thought about doing this.It's always going to p*ss people off when you threaten to sell their property - even though they don't realise that they have OK'd for them to do it. Nice. Not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 340.

    And suddenly a million hipsters went crying to mummy about the big bad boogieman!

  • rate this

    Comment number 339.

    Anything you post on the internet is available to be stolen. And you have already signed up to numerous more intrusive breaches. Try reading the Itunes or Windows user agreements!

  • rate this

    Comment number 338.

    I sincerely hope everyone will opt out.

    I for one never used instagram, and never felt the loss.

  • rate this

    Comment number 337.

    Let's be honest - Facebook and their like are no different than honey trap criminals - they'll entice you in, make you feel comfortable and then rip you off without you even knowing !

    My only wish for 2013 is that these social media leaches somehow could meet a grizzly end and we all went back to just talking to each other in a civilized fashion.

    End of Trolls and Facebook Party Gatecrashers

  • rate this

    Comment number 336.

    Doesn't this break lots of EU laws on privacy? It should. It's outrageous, and one of the reasons I don't use FB or any social media like it..

  • rate this

    Comment number 335.

    ha ha ... who cares .. another example of Facebook desperately trying to justify their share price because they have no way of generating any income... Instagram has a VERY limited shelf life anyway .. this spells the end.

    Sneaky move though

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

    This is appalling. I sell my photography online and am careful to ensure that the photos I spend a not-insignificant amount of my time composing, exposing and retouching properly are not used without payment and/or my permission. This is nothing more than a simple human right - Don't use my stuff without my permission. Bye Facebook/Instagram - this is a step too far.

  • rate this

    Comment number 333.

    How will this work if the image defines the face of a person, will Facebook/Instagram require a model release form?

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    People upload photos taken on proper cameras to instagram, so to say the quality is poor is a mute point.

    I'm sorry but I do not want any photo of mine used for haemorrhoid cream adverts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 331.

    309.Doctor Foster
    "... It would be impossible to get written consent of everybody at a football match, but images like this are used in adverts all the time. ... is whether the prime subject is a recognisable person or not."

    As you say "whether the prime subject is a recognisable person or not"
    You need to check the law before you spout rubbish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    pixlr editor folks.Free app on Android and iphone and also PC via the website.Loads of effects !

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    As someone previously said - Goodbye Instagram! I am fully aware that any picture I put on a social media site can be sent round the world, but that is my choice and I like having that choice. I'll be deleting my account asap. How will Instagram ensure that the pictures they choose to sell on will not be used for nefarious purposes? Will photos of someones child wind up on the wrong site?

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    I've never had much use for social media with all of its never-met-face-to-face 'FRIENDS".
    Now here comes another development that does not allow the user to opt in, but forces the user to opt out: Unless users delete their Instagram accounts by a deadline of 16 January, THEY CANNOT OPT OUT.
    Well, I'm not on FaceBook. Are you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.

    I have NO affiliation or business dealings with the following website.
    I neither endorse it nor suggest anything detrimental.

    It would however, have been better for the owners of Instagram to look at privacy and business implications before jumping ad hoc with both feet into a boiling cauldron.


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