At this point in time I'm glad I never used Instagram. I've done enough exporting / importing of data of the past few years.— Mark Boulton (@markboulton) December 18, 2012
So what does this actually mean to you?
Firstly it's very important to point out that the changes, which will come into effect on January 16th 2013, will not apply to pictures shared before that date.
Both Instagram and Facebook have recently hinted at plans to place advertisements into the photo-sharing application and these changes may very well be the first hint of what they may have planned for future. So here's our guide to what the new terms will mean for you.
1. Instagram can share information about its users with Facebook, as well as outside affiliates and advertisers.
"We may share your information as well as information from tools like cookies, log files, and device identifiers and location data with organisations that help us provide the service to you... (and) third-party advertising partners."
Instagram has said that these changes have been made to help Instagram “function more easily as part of Facebook by being able to share info between the two groups. This means we can do things like fight spam more effectively, detect system and reliability problems more quickly, and build better features for everyone by understanding how Instagram is used.” The move will allow advertisers in Facebook's ad network to access and use Instagram data such as hobbies, food, fashion and places to better target adverts at those users.
2. Instagram can now use your photos and identity for revenue - without any compensation to you.
“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.
Under the new section called "Rights" in the terms of service, Instagram note that they can use your photographs and your identity in adverts. What this means is that any photos uploaded to Instagram could end up in an advertisement or used on Facebook advertising. In another twist - if you take a photo of your friend - who doesn't use Instagram - they could end up in their own advert!
3. Advertisements may not be identified as such.
“You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.”
Whether a deliberate attempt to deceive its users or just another part of the complicated terms - Instagram has said that ads will not necessarily be labeled as ads.
4. Underage users have to abide by the same rules.
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.”
5. You're photos could live forever! - Even if you don't want them to
“If you remove information that you posted to the Service, copies may remain viewable in cached and archived pages of the Service, or if other Users or third parties using the Instagram API have copied or saved that information.”
Even if you delete your account (after the Jan 16th 2013) Instagram or other users may still have access to your photos and can therefore use them legally.
6. I want to opt out!!
Unfortunately, the only way to opt out of the new Instagram terms is to delete your account. If you log into Instagram for any reason you agree to all of the rules contained within the terms of service.
Alan Pelz-Sharpe, research director at 451 Research, added: "It's a barefaced tactic that Facebook and Instagram have taken, and one that will likely meet with many challenges, legally and ethically. The fact is that Facebook has critical mass, and is quite confident that such moves may cause uproar, but not a flight of business."
"Larger firms like Facebook are essentially trailblazing before specific regulations can catch up with them, and as we have seen with Google in the past, regulations and laws have limited real impact on their business operations - so they tend to move forward regardless of opposition."
Instagram have responded to the changes on its company blog, saying that “nothing has changed about your photos’ ownership or who can see them.” The photo-sharing app has defended its new terms by saying that the changes are being made chiefly to help the company tackle spam: "Our updated terms of service help protect you, and prevent spam and abuse as we grow." the company said.
What do you think? Will you be upping sticks and moving to Flickr or do you think that it was only a matter of time before the move happened and don't mind if your pics are used without your consent?
Post written by Content & Community Manager Steven Owens