I bet you’re seeing a lot of hubbub about Instagram’s updated Terms of Service. Here are the basics you should be concerned about:
Instagram can share your username, profile pic, and your pictures. Instagram can also share your actions (Likes, Shares, comments, etc.) with advertisers and they don’t have to pay you. Underage users aren’t exempt. Instagram is assuming that those users’ parents are aware of the terms. These new ToS go into effect on January 16, 2013. My understanding is that your pictures up to then are not affected, but if you use the Instagram service on January 16, 2013 and after, then just by logging in (via app or website), they are taking that as acceptance of the terms of service.
Remember two things:
- YOU are responsible for your privacy on platforms.
- Facebook owns Instagram. They are driven by advertising and the info they can share with advertisers.
Here are a few articles to help you decipher what you’re hearing (updated to add Instagram’s take and an article from The Verge):
- Instagram Blog: Thank You and We’re Listening — Instagram’s own words about what the changes to their terms really mean.
- No, Instagram can’t sell your photos: what the new terms of service really mean via The Verge — A plainly stated explanation of what the changes really mean, why they’re actually BETTER than what they were before, and what you can expect. This is a good one to start with.
- Instagram Alternatives: 8 Great Choices via The Next Web — This article is a great list of options, but what’s missing is a run-down of the Terms of Service for each app. If you switch from Instagram to one of these choices, I’m not sure the ToS will be any better (I haven’t studied them). My advice to you is be sure to read the fine print before jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
- What Instagram’s New Terms of Service Mean for You via The New York Times — I like how this article lays out the changes. When I read that Instagram may not label ads as ads (#4 in the article), I wondered how they’ll get around the FTC Guidelines that specify you must disclose ads and payment.
- Instagram Will Share User Data with Facebook Starting Next Month via Venture Beat — Facebook did buy Instagram this year, so it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that Instagram’s terms are being changed to reflect the parent company’s terms. “By integrating data across services, Facebook and Instagram can learn a lot more about you, which makes you a lot more valuable to advertisers.”
- Instagram Changes Terms of Service – What It Means for You, and What Your Choices Are If You Are as Freaked Out as Everyone Else via Cool Mom Tech — This article tries to help quell the panic and frustration many are feeling. Read this one if you want to know how you can still use Instagram without being taken advantage of. They note that since the changes don’t go into effect until January, there’s still time for them to realize that people are REALLY angry and they may change their minds.
- Instagram Will Basically Sign Your Life Away via Mashable — An opinion piece discussing many additional aspects of the Instagram issue.
- Instagram says it now has the right to sell your photos via C|Net — Declan McCullough talks to an attorney about what it all means.
- Stop Whining About Your Personal Data on Instagram You Whiny Baby via Gawker — Obviously an opinion piece, this one explains that nothing is truly free. Facebook and Instagram don’t cost anything to download, sign up for, or use, but really, they aren’t free — and you knew that going in.
Finally, if you want to take control of your Instagram photos, be sure to download them to your computer with a service like Instaport. You can even port your Instagram photos to other applications. Regardless of what you decide, I do encourage you to at least download your Instagram photos to your computer so you have them. Remember: You don’t own anything on a platform that’s not yours. That goes for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
So let me know: What are you going to do?