Instagram Owns You and Your Photos

Instagram has announced a new Terms of Service, and the terms, not surprisingly, offer users few rights over their photos.

InstagramUnder the new agreement, Instagram can share information about users with parent company Facebook, as well as outside affiliates and advertisers. It can use your image or any of your photos in advertisements without your consent, as well as anyone you've posted a photo of using the service.

The Guardian adds:

The new Instagram clause notes that "some or all of the service may be supported by advertising revenue" and says that, as a result, "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."

That means that Instagram photos could be used in advertising, without reference to the owner, with all the payments going to Instagram. There is no opt-out from that use except to stop using the service and to delete your photos.

But Dan Catt, who worked on the early development of Flickr – one of the first photo-sharing services online – pointed out on Twitter that any pictures which included recognisable people would require explicit permission in the form of a "model release" from Instagram to the advertiser seeking to use it, which might be impossible to grant.

Of course, the calls for boycott have begun.

Will the new Terms of Service be affecting your use of Instagram?


  1. Jim E says

    There was no substantive change in the Instagram terms. The updated terms of service say users agree that their photos could be used “in connection with paid or sponsored content.” The current terms say the service can place ads “on, about or in conjunction with your Content.” Basically, they clarified that the use could be paid or sponsored, but the old terms also allowed this.

  2. ratbastard says

    Folks, NOTHING online is really confidential. You are tracked pretty much everywhere you go. If authorities or some nefarious individual or group wanted to do a check on your internet habits and had the technological know-how and access, they could find out things you thought were completely anonymous or trackless. Google, facebook, instagram, and MANY, MANY other popular sites do their best to DATA MINE.

    And how many reading this don’t think the NSA and other agencies use the internet and popular websites for data mining? Who doesn’t think perhaps they actually started some of these very popular sites or at the very least funded them?

    Your phones can be used to easily track you and software exist and is used in places like store that can actually secretly look at customers phone data in addition to tracking customers, when they enter and even leave a store. This is not a conspiracy or fantasy, it’s very real. I always tuen off my phone and take the battery out when I’m in stores, public places, etc., if I’m not using it.

  3. Thomas says

    This is why people I don’t use social networking sites or put my personal pictures online, because once it’s out there, it’s out there for forever. No thanks. People need to think twice before sharing anything and everything.

  4. anon says

    Ideally, there would be a way to aggregate information between personally hosted sites, rather than having to rely on gigantic sites like FB. You should be able to opt-in to these aggregation networks, and therefore maintain control over just about everything posted.

    I would support fair use reforms that allow sharing of non-substantial works, particularly for non-commercial uses. This would match several other countries, particularly in Europe. It’s too much hassle to determine the rights to every piece of IP in the world, particularly since there’s petabytes of new info each year.

    In that vain, instagram is merely forcing the issue where the law should go. It’s only unfair because the reverse is not true. You can’t subject big content to the same terms. Otherwise, it’s no loss for the individual.

  5. atomic says

    @Ratbastard: You completely missed the point. This isn’t about intrusion of privacy; it’s about the retroactive claim to use your original work, potentially including your likeness, without any compensation or notification.

    In other words, if you don’t delete your account, ALL the photos you’ve ever taken via the service become usable. Your likeness could be used for marketing, and you would never see any compensation for that. You would have no creative control or input. If you took a photo of someone else (or yourself), it could be used in their advertising.

  6. says

    I know that Instagram has realized that this was completely idiotic idea now, but everyone has completely ignored the part of the same clause that everyone is talking about that gave minors the ability to make a “legally” binding contract on behalf of their parents/guardians.

  7. Nik says

    Does anyone have a problem with embedded twitter feeds on websites? What about Pepsi putting a hashtag search of #pepsi scrolling on a promotional website. This is basically what Instagram wants permission to do.

    Instagram just messed up badly in communicating their intentions.

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