A recap, to any rock-dwellers who missed it:
Instagram, the zeitgeist of the vintage filter camera phone world, went Full Netflix Monday when they released their new Terms of Service, set to go into effect on January 16th, 2013.
In the 24 hours that followed, Instagram presumably decided to go take a long lunch, maybe check out the used record store, get its nails done, you know. Take a “Me Day.”
Meanwhile, the Internet took one look at all that legal talky-speak and collectively shit its sweatpants. Instagram plans to SELL YOUR PHOTOS. And keep ALL THE MONEY. And there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO, save for deleting your account and taking your brunch photos elsewhere.
I mean, in the Internet’s defense, just read this shit:
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.
And some people went right ahead and bahbleeted their accounts in protest. Other people at least threatened to. And pretty much every Instagram user on earth joined (or re-joined) Flickr and added you as a contact while you tried to remember how to turn off your phone’s goddamned push notifications.
FINALLY, Instagram got back to the office and decided to check Twitter.
“SHIT,” said Instagram.
So as you’ve probably heard by now — or not, as Instagram is now learning the hard lesson that the Internet has a short attention span and doesn’t like to read follow-ups as much as it likes raging over the original story — Instagram’s co-founder Kevin Systrom finally responded with a blog post late in the day yesterday. (You can read the whole thing here.) The gist? This is all a big misunderstanding, you guys!
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.
To provide context, we envision a future where both users and brands alike may promote their photos & accounts to increase engagement and to build a more meaningful following. Let’s say a business wanted to promote their account to gain more followers and Instagram was able to feature them in some way. In order to help make a more relevant and useful promotion, it would be helpful to see which of the people you follow also follow this business. In this way, some of the data you produce — like the actions you take (eg, following the account) and your profile photo — might show up if you are following this business.
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. Our main goal is to avoid things like advertising banners you see in other apps that would hurt the Instagram user experience. Instead, we want to create meaningful ways to help you discover new and interesting accounts and content while building a self-sustaining business at the same time.
Oooooh, I get it now. “Innovative advertising.” Which…well, it doesn’t really sound like Instagram even knows what that is, or what it will look like or how it will work…so they made the TOS as broad as possible. God’s Umbrella-like, even. The fact that people suddenly chose YESTERDAY to start paying attention to their TOS was like, whoa. How could they have seen that coming? Anyway, fine. They’ll re-write the whole thing. Even though it’s like, almost Christmas and nobody’s in the office and they still need to bake cookies and GAWD.
I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from Instagram over the next couple days, and hoping the media will remain on-hand to dissect the revised TOS and translate into plain English about what Instagram can and cannot do with your photos. I’m personally hoping for a clear OPT OUT option, or a completely ad-free paid/pro version.
(And I also hope Facebook, Inc. is paying attention to Instagram’s woes and realizes FINALLY how disliked and universally distrusted they are as a company. You have a billion users and you don’t listen or openly communicate with ANY of them! And now they all basically assume you are up to no good and sit around in an underground lair thinking up nefarious purposes for baby photos and the fact that Monica M. Millhausen in Ohio likes Polly-O String Cheese.)
Meanwhile, what say you? Was Instagram’s response sufficient, or do you still feel a bit wary about using the service? Or did you already flounce for greener, non-Facebook-owned pastures? And on a scale of 10 to 10, how awesome is the new Flickr app?