Late Monday it announced the changes, which will go into effect Jan. 16. It said that “nothing has changed about your photos’ ownership or who can see them,” but Instagram still retains the right to use the shared photos in whatever way it likes.
The updated terms of service say that users now have to “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,” meaning that users’ photos and content can be used in advertisements.
For users under the age of 18, a legal guardian or parent has to agree to this provision.
It adds, “You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.”
Instagram, bought by Facebook earlier this year for $1 billion, has swelled in popularity since its inception, allowing users to modify photos using filters before uploading on Facebook or Twitter.
But the terms-of-use update was described by some users as a “suicide note.”
“I really liked Instagram. Shame I have to delete my account now,” wrote one user on Tumblr.
Another Tumblr user wanted more drastic action. “Everybody spread the word: if their Terms of Service don’t change, let’s make sure Instagram goes dark on January 15th,” the user said.
Another user termed the move as “SHEER STUPIDITY” and remarked that it would be “fun to watch this app implode.”
Tiffani Thiessen, the actress who played “Valerie” in the original incarnation of “Beverly Hills, 90210,” said via Twitter I “will be deleting my account due [to] their ridiculous new terms.”
Possibly pre-empting the salvo of criticism it would face, Instagram said users can delete their accounts before Jan. 16, but after that, there is no way to opt out of the new terms. Photos that were posted to Instragram’s cut-off date will then be eligible for licensing, but after that, things are unclear.
It also adds that private content might be disclosed. “None of your Content will be subject to any obligation of confidence on the part of Instagram, and Instagram will not be liable for any use or disclosure of any Content you provide,” the new terms state.
But despite the public outrage, it’s hard to say actually how many people will delete their accounts or stop using the service. “Seriously, it’s only pictures of food … who cares,” wrote Twitter user Alay Khan.
“Instagram will change their terms of service once they realize they now own 1,000,000,000 omelette photos,” wrote Twitter user Mike Davis.
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