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Instagram Readies Revised ‘Terms of Service’

Michelle Maisto covers mobile devices, Android and Apple for eWEEK and is also a food writer.

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Instragram will at the weekend implement its new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service that has previously drawn controversy

Instagram has emailed its users to inform them it has updated the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, both which will go live on 19 January.

The Instagram Team signed off by stating, “These updates don’t change the fact that you own your photos that you post on Instagram, and our privacy controls work just as they did before.”

Angry Users

The note was a rather necessary one, as on 17 December, 2012 it announced changes to its Terms of Service that caused thousands of users to flee from the free app and initiated at least one lawsuit.

Those terms stated that Instagram might use subscribers’ photos in advertising without the users’ consent or any compensation.

“You agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you,” read the terms.

national geographic abandons InstagramIt added that underage users were not exempt (Instagram says that users must be 13 years or older), ads may not be labelled as ads and the only way to opt out was to delete one’s account. (The New York Times posted a full rundown.)

Users loudly objected, and Instagram quickly insisted that it had all been a misunderstanding.

“It became clear that we failed to fulfil what I consider one of our most important responsibilities – to communicate our intentions clearly,” Co-Founder Kevin Systrom blogged three days later.

He added ,in so many words, that eventually Instagram will need to make money off of users, but it won’t bother anyone with the details until it figures out how to.

“Going forward,” Systrom said more precisely, “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.”

Change Needed

In its email, as in a blog post about the changes, the Instagram Team pointed out that the changes, effective Friday, were necessary since so much has happened since the original policies were written. The site has grown by millions of users. And of course, it was purchased by Facebook, which possibly more than any other company has confused users about what it or isn’t private.

Instagram, in its blog post, also highlighted what it called “key updates” to the policies. These included that “nothing has changed about your photos’ ownership or who can see them,” that Instagram’s updated privacy policy helps it to fight spam and function “more easily as part of Facebook by being able to share info between two groups,” that that it helps the company to protect users prevent abuse.

“We know these documents are a little dry, but they’re very important,” the team added. “Please take a moment to read through them so you keep feeling comfortable sharing your beautiful photos on Instagram.”

The Terms of Use can be viewed on the Instagram site, under About, as can the new Privacy Policy.

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Originally published on eWeek.