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Instagram May Begin Exploiting Users’ Private Photos for Profit

Instagram May Begin Exploiting Users’ Private Photos for Profit

Following Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram earlier this year, the inevitable has now happened: Instagram will begin exploiting users’ personal images (as well as their likeness and other personal info) for profit – just like Facebook does with their in-site ads.

The dastardly details are spelled out in Instagram’s new terms of 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.

Many sites have been reporting that Instagram will begin selling user’s photos to businesses – but that’s not exactly true. The truth of the matter is that Instagram can’t and won’t sell your photos to anyone – but they can and will share your information with companies who are “legally part of the same group of companies that Instagram is part of”. In a nutshell, that means they’ll be sharing Instagram user data and photos with Facebook and their subsidiaries.

Unlike Facebook’s social network, however, Instagram doesn’t provide a way to opt out of the data sharing, which many users will still find concerning. It’s also worth noting that the data sharing will also be used for some good purposes, as Instagram explained on their blog:

Our updated privacy policy helps 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 changes officially take hold on January 13, 2013. Fortunately, if you don’t like it, it’s still not to late to download all your photos and shut down your Instagram account! But be warned: Once you close your account, you’ll never be able to get your old username back. Make your decision wisely!

Instagram has promised to address anger over the changes in the near future.

Update: Instagram has officially responded to concern over the new privacy policy on their blog, confirming that users still own their photos, that private photos will remain private, and that they aren’t intending to sell anyone’s personal photos.

Update 2: Instagram has now reverted their terms of service, removing the confusing language that led some to believe that they woud begin selling users’ photos.