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 538.

    I love Instagram and I have over 1700 photos on it, they are small images and I would not post anything i'd not want the world seeing as my account is public. I would feel rather proud if they used any of my photos! If you don't like it then leave Instagram :-)) Simple.

  • 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 229.

    Where, exactly, will these advertisers use your images when advertising? Where most people go obviously. Yes, social media websites, where you can already see an adundance of faces. Unless you are a pro photographer, no need to get bothered. And if you are a pro, why are you using this app?

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    There is a simple answer to the copyright issue, do not use social media. It contributes nothing to a real interactive social life and its disadvantages or more profound than most users could even understand. Reveal too much on the net and you are virtually naked in every sense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    I don't understand the fuss, most photo's uploaded to instagram are of poor quality and of little value. To sell images online, you need something of at least 16 megapixels and absolute 100% in focus.

    I don't think they're going to be using your images for the purposes that you assume.
    More likely some sort consumer profiling for advertisers.


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