Instagram's new TOS is social suicide - UPDATED

By now you all have heard about Instagram's new terms of service, the one that states that much like Facebook, they can use your images in ads. We had a hunch this was coming, after all last week they pulled Twitter integration to make money off ads, and we told you that was the place to go and download all your pics in one go. I hope you did then, because now it's overwhelmed by traffic now that Wired have written how to download your Instagram and kill you account in response to the new terms of service.

#3 isn't even legal in most of Europe, where strict marketing laws ensure that advertisements must identify themselves as such, and here Instagram is saying "you acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content or commercial communication as such".

This is the wording that most people are balking at:

“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"

Oh yeah? Yes. Much like when Facebook can use your face in ads, in this case selling extra-marital affairs to the husband by using his wif'es face as the model..., Instagram can use your images in ads.. selling stuff to other people than you and your Instagram buddies.

But before they said any of that, they also ask you to waive your rights to any class action participation and may only settle disputes with Instagram via arbitration. So if something really awkward happens with all this right grabbage that damages a lot of people they can not gang up and sue. No thanks.

Now, most states in the United States have laws that require consent before one can use ones likeness in ads, the legal purpose for this is of course so that celebrities can bank on their value and be compensated, but it also ensures that teenage models can get a few hundred bob for smiling in a toothpaste ad. Here, even if Rihanna breakes up with Instagram faster than she did Chris Brown, they can still plaster her face all over ads if any other Instagram user takes a photo of her and uploads it to their service.

On Instagram's blog they say that these changes have come about to combat spam, which plagues the service.

The only way to opt out is to delete your account. I'm over it. Not the commercialisation of the app, I expected that, it's really no surprise that an app or a website has to try and earn it's keep at some point, I'm just bored of photos of feet, dinners and sunsets.

Oh, and you people who take pictures off the web and then Instagram them (I've seen you do it), pay attention to this part where you'll be the one paying for that, if you get caught.

You represent and warrant that: (i) you own the Content posted by you on or through the Service or otherwise have the right to grant the rights and licenses set forth in these Terms of Use; (ii) the posting and use of your Content on or through the Service does not violate, misappropriate or infringe on the rights of any third party, including, without limitation, privacy rights, publicity rights, copyrights, trademark and/or other intellectual property rights; (iii) you agree to pay for all royalties, fees, and any other monies owed by reason of Content you post on or through the Service; and (iv) you have the legal right and capacity to enter into these Terms of Use in your jurisdiction

Instagram's CEO has responded in a post called thank you and we're listening.

To provide context, we envision a future where both users and brands alike may promote their photos & accounts to increase engagement and to build a more meaningful following. Let’s say a business wanted to promote their account to gain more followers and Instagram was able to feature them in some way. In order to help make a more relevant and useful promotion, it would be helpful to see which of the people you follow also follow this business. In this way, some of the data you produce — like the actions you take (eg, following the account) and your profile photo — might show up if you are following this business.

So yes, the images on Instagram will be used much like that image of the wife promoting extra-marital affairs to her own husband on Facebook. Your user image can show up in a friends of a friends feed recommending them to follow [insert paid account here].

There's no clarification on #3, the one where ads/paid promotions may not always be listed as commercial posts. So that one stays as is apparently.

In this NYT blog Disruptions: Instagram Testimony Doesn’t Add Up, it seems that Kevin Systrom wasn't fully truthful when testifying at a hearing of the California Corporations Department, which sought to determine if Facebook’s acquisition of the photo sharing service was in the best interest of Instagram investors. It's an interesting read in this context.

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kidsleepy's picture

mines gone too. eff that.

Dabitch's picture
Dabitch's picture

This one bothers me too.

" 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. 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..."

So, if you are under the legal age of consent you can click the agree button because parent is totally OK with it, you say. What?

kidsleepy's picture

That above tweet suggests that person has never heard of iStock. They would be very surprised what a business (be it a resort, or a coffeeshop) will do when they can buy a photo on the cheap without having to pay royalties to the photographer.

Dabitch's picture

If you are looking for alternatives Starmatic allows you to import your instamatic feed in one click and then there's Tinypost that lets you add words to your pics making that sunset shot a proper Jack Hardy. Snapseed offers so much in tweaks, filters, color and works swell on Android too.

C|net reports on it too:

One irked Twitter user quipped that "Instagram is now the new iStockPhoto, except they won't have to pay you anything to use your images."
"It's asking people to agree to unspecified future commercial use of their photos," says Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "That makes it challenging for someone to give informed consent to that deal."
That means that a hotel in Hawaii, for instance, could write a check to Facebook to license photos taken at its resort and use them on its Web site, in TV ads, in glossy brochures, and so on -- without paying any money to the Instagram user who took the photo. The language would include not only photos of picturesque sunsets on Waikiki, but also images of young children frolicking on the beach, a result that parents might not expect, and which could trigger state privacy laws.

kidsleepy's picture

Just remember, snapseed has just been bought by google which means we'll either be having the same problems next year, or google will decide to shut it down when it has no more use of it.