After the uproar caused earlier this week regarding Instagram changing its terms of service to include that nasty little provision that allowed them to sell users’ photos without permission or compensation, they finally realized how many users they would lose if they actually enacted the new policies.
In a statement released today on the company’s blog, Instagram claimed that “legal language is easy to misinterpret,” offering the following clarification of Monday’s changes to their terms of service:
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.
As a result, they have reverted back to their old language regarding ad policies and ownership of photos remains with the users, not the company. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom apologized to the public for the company’s “failure to communicate their intentions clearly.” The new section on users’ rights and advertising revenue now reads:
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.
Compare this to the previous controversial terms listed in Monday’s changes:
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, transferrable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the service…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.
As for the second part? Instagram dropped a giant bomb, and now they’re claiming they never dropped any bombs in the first place. It’s the media that took this completely out of context. Question: do you believe your users are really that stupid? Claiming that people took the above policy out of context is like Mitt Romney claiming that people took his “47% video” out of context. That excuse doesn’t work, and your intentions are completely transparent.
Instagram changed their terms because of the outrage, and they knew that if they still enacted the new terms of service on January 16, they would have an even more cataclysmic public relations disaster on their hands, not to mention the millions of people who would have deleted their Instagram accounts (or already did amongst the hype). Also, if you wanted to be “innovative” with creating new ads, you could have at least made it fun. Try holding a contest that users can voluntarily enroll in–people who want their photographic genius to be seen by the world. Best photo wins an ad deal, and winners actually get some type of cash reward from the company who’s paying you for ads (because the companies paying you are most likely multi-million dollar corporations, such as Facebook).
Hopefully other companies learn from Instagram’s decision, and we can all go back to posting vintage selfies and hipster food photos in peace.
You can read the reverted old terms of service (their 2010 version) here, now effective January 19, 2013.