Instagram makes u-turn over advertising terms

Instagram makes u-turn over advertising terms

Summary: Photo-sharing operator reverts to its previous terms and conditions regarding advertising, following public outcry over changes which were interpreted to allow user photos to be sold.


Instagram will not be making changes to the advertising section of its terms and conditions after all. Instead, the company will revert to the original version of its user agreement which had been in effect since the service launched in October 2010.

Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram, said in a blog post Friday: "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."

Earlier this week, the app developer caused an uproar among its users when it revealed its new terms of services. The updated terms which was supposed to take effect on Jan. 16, 2013, would have allowed Instagram to monetize people's photos posted on the platform to third-parties for advertising.

Upon hearing the announcement, some users threatened to leave the service while others were unmoved.

A day after the proposed changes were revealed, Systrom had issued a clarification admitting the service terms were "confusing". He said the company has no intention of selling user-generated content without compensation or use them for advertisements.

In his blog post, he again apologized for the turn of events: "It became clear that we failed to fulfill what I consider one of our most important responsibilities--to communicate our intentions clearly. I am sorry for that... There was confusion and real concern about what our possible advertising products could look like and how they would work." 

"I want to be really clear: Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don't own your photos--you do," he said.

Instagram was bought over by Facebook in April for US$1 billion and is reportedly under pressure to generate money for its parent company. In a separate USA Today report Wednesday, Radar Research analyst Marissa Gluck said Instagram has to build a revenue model after being acquired by Facebook, as the latter has been "under enormous shareholder pressure" to improve its monetization strategies.

Topics: Apps, Social Enterprise

Liau Yun Qing

About Liau Yun Qing

The only journalist in the team without a Western name, Yun Qing hails from the mountainy Malaysian state, Sabah. She currently covers the hardware and networking beats, as well as everything else that falls into her lap, at ZDNet Asia. Her RSS feed includes tech news sites and most of the Cheezburger network. She is also a cheapskate masquerading as a group-buying addict.

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  • So which exec has been fired for being stupid?

    In cases like this, I'm often wondering: WHO at the company didn't see this coming? Who signed off on doing it in the first place, didn't try it on a focus group or survey of customers, and does that executive still have their job?

    Heck - hire ME. I will sanity check what you plan to do, and tell you if there will be massive backlash which will cause you to completely reverse the plans you spent 6 months preparing for, and I will only charge you 10% of the wasted legal, management and engineering effort which you'll save by borrowing my common sense.

  • PS - if the TOS isn't your intentions, what IS the TOS?

    If Instgram didn't "intend" to do what they added to their Terms of Service.... what IS the terms of service? Things they DONT plan to do?
  • Does anyone think this statement wasn't clear?

    "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."

    is that "unclear" and/or the exact opposite of the later executive statement:

    "I want to be really clear: Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don't own your photos"
    • hmmm...

      seems pretty clear to me... what about you pumba?
      Brookelynn Miller
  • Instagram makes u-turn over advertising terms

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful articles battery)
  • Rather than get permission, just explain?

    Reading the statement in the blog - rather than get permission, just explain? Wow, this is going from bad to worse

    I'm afraid this means no future plans to check out their service anymore.
  • They will do it anyway... Eventually...

    Just like changes to Facebook they will eventually do it anyway just it will happen as baby steps over the next couple of years and be approached differently..

    These "free" services are businesses and the user data is their product to sell to other businesses.. The shareholders want their Billion Dollars back plus a healthy profit..
    • Maybe

      But it will be a while, I'm sure.

      Eternal vigilance...
      John L. Ries
  • The intent

    The "Intent" is clearly stated in the language. There really is no way to spin it any other way. Instagram's business model included selling photos as a viable source of revenue. The fine print states it unequivocally. The correct PR spin is to state that they will remove the language and REVERSE their policy. Consumers are not stupid enough to fall for such spin.