“Legal documents are easy to misinterpret,” reads a statement rushed out by popular photo-sharing service Instagram this afternoon in an attempt to stem what looks like a huge exodus of users. An update to its terms of service led many to believe that Instagram, which was purchased by Facebook earlier this year, was planning to sell users’ photos to advertisers without their consent, prompting many, including celebrities and media personalities, to threaten to delete their accounts.
Sorry everyone but my Instagram is now on private until I can delete. I will also delete Facebook.
— virginia madsen (@madlyv) December 18, 2012
it takes a long time to delete 300 photos from one’s instagram feed…
— Mark Hoppus (@markhoppus) December 18, 2012
Wow…I just read over Instagram’s new policy…so sad, looks like I might be deleting my instagram after Jan 16. I hope something changes
— KhloéKardashianOdom (@KhloeKardashian) December 18, 2012
Sorry I gotta delete you, Instagram. I liked your filters.”Instagram Says It Now Has the Right to Sell Your Photos”m.cnet.com/news/instagram…
— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) December 18, 2012
Anyone else hear that massive “whoomp” of displaced air as millions of Instagram users delete their accounts?
— Chris Angel (@TheChrisAngel) December 18, 2012
— Jaimie Alexander (@JaimieAlexander) December 18, 2012
#Instagram can now sell my photos & use them in advertising ads or anyway they want without my approval other then using me their app? LAME
— Jaime King (@Jaime_King) December 18, 2012
Instagram, you were my favorite app and you stabbed me in the back. I feel like I married you and you just slept with my best friend.
— Jonah Hill (@JonahHill) December 18, 2012
As of jan 16th #instagram will own the rights to all the photos you post up in their website.Total.Corporate.Money. Bullshit. Bye Instagram
— Dominic Monaghan (@DomsWildThings) December 18, 2012
I deleted my Instagram account.
— Cliff Cheney (@cliffcheney) December 18, 2012
— Perez Hilton (@PerezHilton) December 18, 2012
Bye Bye Instagram. It was fun…. but I don’t need you owning my pics & selling them without permission. news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-5…
— Candace Cameron Bure (@candacecbure) December 18, 2012
Less than a month to enjoy @instagram before we all have to bail! Everyone get pictures of your meals and views from hotels in STAT!!
— Jaret Reddick (@jaret2113) December 18, 2012
#Instagram will now be able to use anyone’s photos in ads? Without consent? Come on! Is there another photo app people recommend?
— Anderson Cooper (@andersoncooper) December 18, 2012
— Patrick Witty (@patrickwitty) December 19, 2012
Here’s the language that had everyone upset:
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.
That was the word yesterday, anyway. Instagram insists in its statement today that it has no intention of selling anyone’s photos, and content uploaded by users remains their property. In the meantime, as Instagram revises its terms of service, it has offered the following scenario to calm users.
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.
Will that be enough to draw users back? A campaign to #BoycottInstagram was already in full swing earlier in the day, and many had already deleted their photos, following instructions posted by tech blogs and other media outlets. Just because people post photos of every cup of cappuccino they drink doesn’t mean they don’t take their privacy very seriously.
Today is national #BoycottInstagram day. Instagram is going to start selling your private photos on January 16.
— KITTEN(@Jasmine_blu) December 18, 2012
Today is #boycottinstagram day! Save your pics, delete your account. Don’t let them sell your pics.
— Ðrú ßrσzσvich (@DruZovich) December 18, 2012
— sherryrose (@sherryrose) December 18, 2012
#boycottinstagram another company that figured its users didn’t need respect
— Dave Mitchell (@TintinCapone) December 18, 2012
My personal instagram has photos from my actual photography. From my pro camera. Copyrighted images that they’ll now sell? #BoycottInstagram
— Stoner Boners (@StonerBoners) December 18, 2012
With an apology extended and the picture a little clearer, will users be lured back? Twitchy will monitor the situation to see what develops.