Apparently, Instagram thinks it's worth fighting to stay alive today for the promise of a future tomorrow. While they've been under intense criticism after public outcry against revised terms of service that blurred the lines of users' ownership of their own content, the company has decided to clarify its position, now backpedaling entirely...
The new terms that Instagram proposed Monday gave the company the right to use users' content for advertising, but was confusing in the way that it was stated. Users were unsure about whether their photos could be sold to other companies for advertisements on the Instagram platform (for Instagram's advertising-supported revenue) or just used for Instagram's own advertisements about itself. In either case, even having Instagram use photos in their own advertisements without paying its users a fee for any content used to promote the popular app is controversial, needless to say. Still, users often are willing to give up such rights in understanding that such services need to monetize themselves to continue to provide those services.
Monday's terms added concern that people's images could be used without permission of the subjects in the photos as well, which would be an issue in various territories in which citizens have rights to the way images of them or their likeness are used in promotional content. The new terms stated:
...Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. 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. 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.
You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such."
After Monday's initial change of terms, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom tried to explain the company's position Tuesday:
"Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we'd like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear... The language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we're going to remove the language that raised the question."
Thursday, however, Instagram decided to remove the new section entirely, backpedaling further from this disaster. Again, Systrom added:
"Going forward, rather than obtain permission from you to introduce possible advertising products we have not yet developed, we are going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work."
As of January 19th, the new, re-revised policy will state:
2. Some of the Service is supported by advertising revenue and may display advertisements and promotions, and you hereby agree that Instagram may place such advertising and promotions on the Service or on, about, or in conjunction with your Content. The manner, mode and extent of such advertising and promotions are subject to change without specific notice to you."
The changes are no longer as vast, but Instagram will still make a change when the 19th rolls around. Here's the current one for comparison.