Instagram has just crossed the line, big time. As of next month, Facebook’s protégé will make some major changes to its terms of service, giving itself the right to use your photos in its ads, or sell them to third parties for the same purpose. You, will not receive a penny for your photos, nor will you even be informed that they’ve been sold on specifically for these purposes, and if you don’t like, then tough. Stop using Instagram.
When the new policy comes into effect on January 16, anyone who continues to use the photo service will essentially be signing over full rights of all the content they upload to the site, allowing Instagram to license any of your public photos to third parties for advertising, or possibly other purposes. Essentially, the new TOS will transform Instagram into the largest stock photo agency in the world – but unlike other agencies, it’ll be getting all of its content for free.
What this means is that a hotel or a restaurant somewhere might ask to buy all the photos taken at its premises from Facebook, before using these images to promote itself on TV, on the web, in brochures or anywhere else it see fits – while the person who took the photo and anyone who appears in them (including your kids) won’t get paid so much as a dime.
Here’s the exact passage from the new TOS that makes it quite clear who is boss:
“Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. 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.”
And it gets worse if you’re a parent whose kids happen to use the service.
“If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf.”
Like your rebellious 15-year old daughter is going to “ask you” to consent to their use of Instagram….
Not surprisingly, there has been a huge backlash from Instagram users who are, to put it mildly, extremely pissed off with Facebook’s dictatorial edict, with one user labeling the changes “Instagram’s suicide note,” while another said goodbye, calling the new TOS “totally stupid and nonsense”.
Reginald Braithwaite, an author and software developer, was so enraged that he took the trouble of ‘translating’ Instagram’s new TOS on his blog, revealing Facebook’s true level of disdain towards its users:
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.
And keep telling us everywhere you go and what you see there. We’ll do the rest.”
What’s infuriating about all this is that Instagram even has the nerve to pretend that the updated terms of service are no big deal, when in fact it is actually attempting to exploit its users in the most cynical fashion, make no bones about it. It even tries to disguise what it is doing, ignoring the issue altogether in its blog post announcing the new terms of service, and instead hinting that the main reason behind them is to “combat spam”. Yeah right.
Instagram draws its users in, offering a cool and fun service that’s free for all to use, then buries the ugly truth of how it intends to profit from these same users. Sure, some might argue that it has every right to do so – no one is forcing anybody to use Instagram. But the fact is that it’s trying to deceive people, by veiling its true intentions in so much legal mumbo jumbo, and then lying to people that all it’s trying to do is make their experience “better”.
The vast majority of Instagram users, if not for the media publicity, would probably never even notice that the terms of service had been updated – and even those that do would be unlikely to find key passages relating to the use of their photos.
What Instagram is doing might be okay from a legal perspective, but from a moral perspective, it’s truly wicked behavior. With her analysis on Instagram’s latest update is Senior Editor Kristen Nicole, who appeared on this morning’s NewsDesk program with Kristin Feledy.