Just one week after Instagram and Twitter announced they were severing an important tie, it seems that the photo-sharing app’s maintainers are looking to displease even more users. Yesterday they announced an update to their Terms of Service – which will include more information in January – and has the Internet abuzz with distaste for the service changes.
Now Instagram can share users’ photos with advertisers who can then use those photos and general user data to promote sponsored content. This means that, in theory, you could someday see your Instagram’d photo of a heart-shaped pizza pie on a Valentine’s day advertisement for Pizza Hut and you wouldn’t see a cent, dime, or single pepperoni as payment.
The update states explicitly, “…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.” This is par for the course when it comes to the TOS of some other sites (like Facebook for example), though the general response from the Internet has been negative. A plethora of former Instagram users have openly said that they’re leaving the service – which isn’t very pleasant to do if you’ve enjoyed your time Filtering prized snapshots.
Getting rid of your Instagram account requires a few steps, and there’s no way to undo the process or sign back up later on with the same username. If you’re worried about Instagram selling your photos then deactivating your account or removing all of your pictures is the only way to keep them from doing so. Before taking such a drastic step, I recommend backing up your photos with a service like Instaport (which seems to be running slow today due to an influx of traffic) or Copygram and downloading them to your computer. To preserve your username, simply delete your photos one by one and then leave your account vacant, should you want to reinstate it in the future.
If you’re looking for a new service many shutterbug folks are flocking over to Flickr’s improved photo app crafted by Yahoo. It has everything that Instagram does and then some – filters, Social Sharing, geo-tagging, groups, and the ability to search millions of beautiful photos from all over the world. If you’re going to make the switch, this app is currently your best option.
As the dust starts to settle, it will be interesting to see how many people leave Instagram in fear of creative violation. One thing is certain; ever since Facebook purchased Instagram and it became a chess piece in the game of Twitter vs Facebook, things have been on a downward slope for this once glamorized photo sharing tool. Are you leaving it behind?
In response to this backlash, Instagram has released a statement on their blog addressing some of their users’ concerns and redacting changes to their TOS. According to the post, “The language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question. Our main goal is to avoid things like advertising banners you see in other apps that would hurt the Instagram user experience.”
The question remains; are they sincerely undoing the changes or simply back-tracking to save face and keep their users? To me it seems like a combination of both, but we can’t blame Instagram for wanting to fix such a tangled mess that has undoubtedly tarnished their once shiny image.