IInstagramnstagram certainly turned over a hornet’s nest when they published their updated Terms and Condition.  Around December 18th, The New York Times spotted Instagrams new Terms and Conditions and warned users about the draconian provisions being introduced on January 16th, 2013. Apart from a post on the Instagram blog, I’m not sure how users who don’t regularly visit the site found out about them….

According to The New York Times, Instagrams Terms and Conditions meant:

  • Instagram could share information about its users with parent company, Facebook as well as outside affiliates and advertisers.
  • You could star in an advertisement — without your knowledge.

The new terms didn’t exempt underage members either.  Although you have to be 13 years old to sign up for an Instagram account – the new terms stated that if a teenager signs up, they are agreeing that a parent or guardian is aware that their image, username and photos can also be used in ads.

Oh, and the only way to opt out of the provisions was to delete your Instagram account.

Unfortunately, I did not get to see these terms and conditions but according to BBC, one of the new clauses read as follows:

“To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you,”

Naturally, this caused a furore in the Internet community and created hash tag BoycottInstagram.  It’s unclear of how many members actually deleted their accounts … although to @_sankara_ over 5,000,000 accounts were deleted as of December 21st…


The changes even had National Geographic (one of Instagrams largest users with approx. 640,000 followers) temporarily suspending posting their images until the issue was clarified.

Interestingly, the changes to Instagram’s Terms and Conditions were recanted around December 21st, with the following on the Instagram blog:

Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010. You can see the updated terms here.

Followed by:

You also had deep concerns about whether under our new terms, Instagram had any plans to sell your content. I want to be really clear: Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don’t own your photos – you do.

Are the changes to Instagrams Terms and Conditions, just a little too late? Will members trust that their content is safe and will they continue to use Instagram with aplomb?  I, for one, have requested my daughter (who is an avid Instagram user) to be more careful about what she shares …. and consider the alternatives available.

Let’s face it though – Instagram is a free service… and they are a business – they have to get their income from somewhere.  Per the old Internet saying – “If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer, you’re the product for sale…”.  Regardless of any other provision in their terms and conditions, there is the trusty “catch all” clause:

By displaying or publishing (“posting”) any Content on or through the Instagram Services, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content, including without limitation distributing part or all of the Site in any media formats through any media channels, except Content not shared publicly (“private”) will not be distributed outside the Instagram Services.

By using the service to share your images, you are granting them permission to use your content, at no cost, almost as they wish.  If you don’t want to do this, don’t use the service.

I’ve mentioned this a few times in other posts around Facebook privacy.

Weigh in … have you already deleted your Instagram account? Are you considering it? Has the furore created an awareness for you about the safety of your creative content?


About the Author Charly Dwyer

Charly has more than 30 years experience in the IT industry ranging from hands-on technical, to high-level business management, Charly has installed and configured computing equipment and has managed business contracts in excess of $25 million dollars.

As a result, Charly identifies the best way to integrate solutions and technologies for the most cost effective way to achieve a businesses outcome.

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