Instagram clarifies new terms of service: ‘It is not our intention to sell your photos’

By Daniel S Levine,

On Monday, the popular smartphone app Instagram released a new terms of service, which was set to go into effect next month. The terms went viral, with some interpreting them to mean that Instagram will sell users photos to corporations without paying the users. Instagram quickly issued a statement clarifying the new terms, claiming that it has no plans to do anything like that.

The new terms are set to go into effect on Jan. 16 and includes a paragraph explaining how the company and its service is supported by ad revenue.

The sentence that sparked anger reads, “To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, 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.”

Within hours, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom posted a statement on the company blog titled “Thank you, and we’re listening.” In it, Systrom writes that legal documents are “easy to misinterpret” and that the company will dedicate itself to being more receptive of its users.

First, Systrom explains that the Facebook-owned company doesn’t intend to profit off of users’ photos. “Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram,” he wrote. “Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.”

He also stressed that users own their photos, not Instagram and that there are no plans to change their right to choose who gets to see their photos.

When the new terms were posted on Monday, the Internet went ablaze with complaints with some even calling it the company’s “suicide note.”



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