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Summary:

Instagram announced in a blog post Thursday afternoon that it would be entirely reverting to the language from its original terms of service in regards to advertising, following several days of concern from users over the updated language in its terms of service.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom thumbnail

Instagram further clarified its terms of service Thursday afternoon, noting that it would be reverting to its old terms of service language that’s been active since 2010 in regards to advertising and scrapping the updated terms released earlier this week that caused so much concern among users. However, the company had already responded to user complaints on Tuesday, clarifying that it did not intend to sell user photos or use them directly as advertisements. That post seemed to quell a good deal of user concern, so it’s unclear why the company took further steps on Thursday.

Instagram originally released the updated terms on Monday, setting off a firestorm of complaints from users who disliked the new terminology that said “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.” The update on Tuesday said the company was listening to its users, had no intention to sell their photos, and would not retain ownership over the images. It said: “We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.”

But in a blog post Thursday, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom wrote that the company would be going back to the original terminology for advertising-related issues, rather than putting a new terms of service into place as the company said it would Tuesday, and using the original language from 2010:

“Earlier this week, we introduced a set of updates to our privacy policy and terms of service to help our users better understand our service. In the days since, it became clear that we failed to fulfill what I consider one of our most important responsibilities – to communicate our intentions clearly. I am sorry for that, and I am focused on making it right.

The concerns we heard about from you the most focused on advertising, and what our changes might mean for you and your photos. There was confusion and real concern about what our possible advertising products could look like and how they would work.

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.”

An Instagram spokeswoman confirmed that the company decided to revert to the old terms of service because it doesn’t yet have immediate advertising plans to put in action, and that they’ll update the language when they do.

  1. This is still in the new version, different from the old.

    “Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service”

    They key phrase is the fully-paid, royalty-free, “transferable and sub-licensable, worldwide license”.

    With license with right to transfer and sub-license, they technically don’t “own” your content, but they basically still can sell it.

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  2. Let’s pretend that Instagram actually did remove the language, instead of re-word the same terms. It’s too late now. Those of us that have moved on (the varying professionals who can’t afford to risk these terms) are gone for good. I don’t feel like having to watch my back constantly, waiting for them to try it again. And they will. Also, who wants to put the time back in that it takes to build a following, twice?

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  3. New language allows you to retain “ownership,” while giving them “license” to use and sell the images you own without paying you, the owner. Same thing said another way. This is a legal end run on our concerns

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  4. Most importantly, Instagram no longer claim rights to my likeness. This was a much more important issue than individual photographs, as it basically prevented celebs or anyone who cared about privacy from using the site.

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  5. What I find most annoying about this whole thing is the disingenuous and condescending way in which the CEO addressed these changes in his first “clarification’ and even in this new clarification. In the first he framed the whole affair as being a problem of “confusion” that users didn’t quite understand how Instagram was trying to be helpful. The implication was that he and Instagram were doing nothing at all that infringed upon users’ ownership rights of their photos, but rather users simply didn’t understand the new language and thus imagined things that were not at all intended. Even in this 2nd clarification, he couldn’t even just state, without qualification, “I made a mistake in judgment by trying to lay down some new legal groundwork for an eventual new ad revenue strategy. We heard all of you loud and clear, recognize our colossal error, and have now ditched that entire idea. Thus effective immediately our Terms of Service have reverted back to their original language.” Instead he stuck to his narrative: “we introduced a set of updates to our privacy policy and terms of service to help our users better understand our service”. What exactly was not understood about the service that required a new set of Terms be adopted? Weasel.

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  6. Dan Lee Rogers Friday, December 21, 2012

    Instagram may have changed it’s controversial ad language somewhat, but the messy part is still there. An attorney’s perspective is explained well here: http://dlr-law.com/3/post/2012/12/instagram-and-social-medias-manifest-destiny.html

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