Instagram Posts Update: "To Be Clear: It Is Not Our Intention To Sell Your Photos"

Tyler Durden's picture

Update: in what may be a death knell for Instagram, National Geographic just announced it would stop posting images to Instagram.

A day after an epic backlash to what many understood was a change in Instagram's TOS, which would see users vacate property and ownership rights over their photos shared on the popular social network - a concept clearly spelled out - and hand these over to Facebook (which recently acquired the Photoshop filters at the backbone of Instagram's business model for an ungodly amount), leading to a furious and perfectly expected exodus of users closing their Instagram accounts, here is the company's panicked response, in which it explains it did not mean what it meant. To wit:"To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos." What about selling photos accidentally? Which explains the legalese, because while it may not be "our intention", it is no longer expressly prohibited, is it?

Is it too little too late? And can the company convince the millions that have already left, and the further tens of millions on the fences, that its mission, like Google, is also"to do no evil"? We will find out in the next several days when Instagram's competitors are furiously collating the latest Comscore and various other traffic data to pronounce the early death of the photo sharing service over something as "trivial" as a change in the Terms of Service which many had hoped would fly under the radar unnoticed by anyone.

From Instragram's blog (highlights ours)


Thank you, and we’re listening

Yesterday we introduced a new version of our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service that will take effect in thirty days. These two documents help communicate as clearly as possible our relationship with the users of Instagram so you understand how your data will be used, and the rules that govern the thriving and active Instagram community. Since making these changes, we’ve heard loud and clear that many users are confused and upset about what the changes mean.

I’m writing this today to let you know we’re listening and to commit to you that we will be doing more to answer your questions, fix any mistakes, and eliminate the confusion. As we review your feedback and stories in the press, we’re going to modify specific parts of the terms to make it more clear what will happen with your photos.

Legal documents are easy to misinterpret. So I’d like to address specific concerns we’ve heard from everyone:

Advertising on Instagram From the start, Instagram was created to become a business. Advertising is one of many ways that Instagram can become a self-sustaining business, but not the only one. 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 likes 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.

Ownership Rights Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. Nothing about this has changed. We respect that there are creative artists and hobbyists alike that pour their heart into creating beautiful photos, and we respect that your photos are your photos. Period.

I always want you to feel comfortable sharing your photos on Instagram and we will always work hard to foster and respect our community and go out of our way to support its rights.

Privacy Settings Nothing has changed about the control you have over who can see your photos. If you set your photos to private, Instagram only shares your photos with the people you’ve approved to follow you. We hope that this simple control makes it easy for everyone to decide what level of privacy makes sense.

I am grateful to everyone for their feedback and that we have a community that cares so much. We need to be clear about changes we make — this is our responsibility to you. One of the main reasons these documents don’t take effect immediately, but instead 30 days from now, is that we wanted to make sure you had an opportunity to raise any concerns. You’ve done that and are doing that, and that will help us provide the clarity you deserve. Thank you for your help in making sure that Instagram continues to thrive and be a community that we’re all proud of. Please stay tuned for updates coming soon.


Kevin Systrom co-founder, Instagram

* * *

In other words Instragram may not sell your photo outright. Instead, it will contextualize it, re-package it, and use it to sell advertising, without giving you a penny. Oh, and while it is certainly not Instagram intention to do so, it may still sell it...

All better now?



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Tenshin Headache's picture

It would be more reassuring if they said "We also won't run facial recognition software on your images."

pods's picture

Cause they won't be the ones running the software.


Pancho Villa's picture

Don't you just HATE companies that send you 100 page updates of their terms and conditions, always written in dense legalese, that you have to agree to OR ELSE. (Ebay and Paypal take note!). FB is a serial offender in the privacy area and I'm sure that they will find eventually find a way to own all the data that you add. Maybe they should change their ticker to FBI.

Never put anything on the internet that you would not want a stranger or current or future employer to see.

gwar5's picture

All your personal (naughty) photos are belong to us! 


And it will (read is) all be part of your very own personal Dossier that Eric Holder, c/o DOJ.GOV, is building on everyone. Do not forget that the DOJ (WH) is now in charge of NDAA and interrogations.

For everyone, and your friends, not yet awake, please wake up. Everything you do, and say, can and will be held against you in any future computer dragnets should anything you do fall into a category that displease the new STASI regime. Your naughty pictures with your wife her best friend while on vacay are fair game.

Freddie's picture

Look at that Lanza kid, his mom and his LiborGate daddy.  We knew everything about them in few hours plus all the spin and lies.

He had 4 hand gunds he brought into the school?  How do you carry 4 handguns?  They claim he had an AR 15.

Tenshin Headache's picture

So I guess they will be going back to the old TOS.

No? Oh.

drivenZ's picture

The circle of internet/mobile tech...

Create a free service, sell it for a billion dollars to a larger company, watch larger company try to monetize it, users leave for newly created free service.

I don't fault them for trying to make money on it.  But there are not enough barriers to entry to stop some other VC funded 25 year old from creating a better newer and freer product. Maybe data center and content storage costs but that's about it.    

tradewithdave's picture

Is the Good Intentions Asphalt & Paving Company finally going public?  It's a winner.

David99's picture

ZH is only doing good job and reporting correctly. Tyler is a real true person though I have never met him. FED+BOE+ECB+BOJ are the biggest manipulators and JPM +GS +20PD's act on their behalf in this Ponzi Casino. It is all rigged Ponzi Casino. JPM & GS do maximum manipulations from London as no regulators are looking what is going on daily. London is the best place to manipulate Ponzi Casino as no regulators as they are watching porno. Manipulations of highest order without any regulations as every one has been purchased and regulators watching porno. In last 10 trading days, Rio Tinto manipulated by +25% gain and regulators watching porno. JPM doing it. It is just Casino and nothing else. Regulators are watching porno, don't know how Rio Tinto is manipulating daily. On LSE, there is no checks and balances and maximum manipulations daily by Rio Tinto. The market is Casino and the biggest manipulated stock is Rio Tinto and JPM is pulling up daily and no regulations for Rio Tinto in London

pods's picture

Gonna have to start calling you "Deja Vu99."

We get the message, you got screwed in the "market."


besnook's picture

it seems it would make more sense to tell everyone that uses the service that their photos are for sale and the owner of the photo would receive a commission on the sale. i know the reality is they are taking advantage of the bottom half of the class who have no idea what is going on and don't care.

IridiumRebel's picture

Never used them never will.

alien-IQ's picture

Everything and anyone that comes in contact with facebook in any way, shape or form immediately turns to shit.

The only way to avoid it is to not use it...which I have been perfectly happy to do.

Never had a FB account...Never gonna have one. Problem solved.

Yen Cross's picture

 People that use this shit have always amazed me!

Nowadays people pay a premium for privacy, and you have these little tweekers that feel the need to post every waking moment of their lives in living color. I wouldn't touch either one of those shit.coms/

Mercury's picture


Why is everybody on Facebook again?

Zer0head's picture

because if you are under 25 the word privacy has absolutely zero meaning, no knowledge of what it is or why anyone would give a shit - unless of course you are Scarlett Johansson, in which case the emeffer who hacked her email deserves 10 years in a Fed Pen


I hate to say but Eric the next Obama Czar was correct  " If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you...




mrjohn's picture

Sooner or later people will realise that the internet is a mostly digital noise and it will drop in importance to the level of radio. Background, occasionally useful.

adr's picture

Once again the people got Fuckerberged. Facebook started out as a way for guys to post pictures of hot chicks in college and comment on them.

Hopefully Fuckerberg's wife murders him soon and returns to Hong Kong and is granted asylum by the Chinese government. God that would be awesome.

Smuckers's picture

Nice move NG! - Instaban.  Works much better than increasing a "Thumbs Down" counter.

Simon's picture

"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."

My own info show up when I follow a business ? Does it make any sense ?

Maybe he means if I follow a business my following info can show up to some of my instagram friends (to promote the business) ?