Instagram wants to sell your photos to faceless corporations. Great, now what?

Instagram 3.2 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 003)Instagram 3.2 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 002)

As we told you yesterday, realizing it needs to start making money the Facebook-owned photo sharing service has added an interesting clause to its Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

The updated rules give Instagram the right to sell access to your photos to advertisers and share your profile data with third-parties. The change enraged some to the point of closing their Instagram account.

The vast majority of users don’t appeaer to oppose the decision with such drastic measures, but there’s no doubt that the company is playing with fire. The move already has backfired. A major backlash ensued and the misstep is now threatening to snowball into a PR catastrophe…

CNET nails it suggesting the change basically turns Instagram into a stock photo service that doesn’t pay a dime to photographers in licensing fees. A second section bluntly states that “a business or other entity may pay us to display your photos in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you”.

The new intellectual property policy goes into effect on January 16.

So what, I’ll just opt out, I hear you say.

Unfortunately, you cannot opt out as the changes are imposed on users. If you have issues with the updated terms of service that give Facebook the perpetual right to license all your public Instagram photos to faceless corporations and advertisers, you’re out of luck.

Indeed, just tweaking the wording slightly makes all the difference.


Developer Reginald Braithwaite dives deep into the new terms, providing this human-readable ‘translation’:

You are not our customers, you are the cattle we drive to market and auction off to the highest bidder. Enjoy your feed and keep producing the milk.

The new terms also give Instagram rights to share information on you with Facebook, other affiliates and advertisers and “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”.

So, unless you’re cool with Facebook and Instagram profiting on your snaps, your only option is to download your snaps and close your Instagram account before the January deadline.

The backlash first started on Twitter.

One irked user nailed it, writing that “Instagram is now the new iStockPhoto, except they won’t have to pay you anything to use your images”.

New York-based photographer Clayton Cubitt on his Instagram account wrote that the new policy is “Instagram’s suicide note”.

Here’s how your Instagram photos used in an ad looks like.

Web publications and mainstream media are writing about the new policy so I think Instagram may wanna take a step back and re-think its wording, especially the section governing photo use.

Joe Brown ran an article on Gizmodo titled “Dear Instagram, Please Sell My Photos”.

Bloomberg is just as assertive, correctly warning in its headline that “Facebook’s Instagram Changes May Exploit Teens’ Content” because the new policies apply to users as young as 13.

Instagram web profile (screenshot 002)

It is also unclear how the policy change might affect services like Printstagram, which turns people’s Instagram snaps into prints, wall calendars and stickers.

Instagram’s misstep may have opened a rare opportunity for Yahoo’s flagging Flickr service, whose iPhone app was recently updated with Instagram-like filters, a much prettier interface and support for full Groups capabilities.

Unlike Instagram, both Yahoo’s Flickr and Google’s Google+ app (which taps Picasa web albums) allow for full-resolution photo uploads and maintain full EXIF meta data embedded in your snaps.

Explaining what Instagram’s new rules mean for you, The New York Times writes that, among other things, “you could star in an advertisement — without your knowledge”.

The Verge, on the other hand, thinks that “there’s no way Instagram can sell your photos to anyone”.

Gosh, good thing I didn’t delete my Instagram account.

And how do you feel about Instagram’s policy change?

Would you mind Facebook selling your Instagram snaps to third-parties without compensating you?

Would you go as far as to close your Instagram account over the changes and switch to a competing service?