In a blog post
Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said that the company is “listening” to feedback given by users, who he said were “confused and upset about what the changes mean.” He said the company hoped to “fix any mistakes, and eliminate the confusion.”
The crux of the matter is whether or not Instagram will be selling user photos to advertisers, without compensation, as suggested by the language of the terms. Instagram claims this was a misinterpretation of its intended action, which is to “experiment with innovative advertising,” though it did not specify what exactly this meant.
“To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos,” Systrom wrote. “We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.” He admitted that it was Instagram's mistake for providing confusing language.
For context, this is what Instagram was proposing:
“To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”
That seems clear enough to us, so this may simply be Instagram performing a quick u-turn on what would have, if proceeded with, caused considerable damage to its reputation.
The company said it has no intention to use photos as part of advertisements and is therefore going to remove the relevant language. It also reiterated that users own their photos, not Instagram, and that there will not be any changes to privacy settings.
“The idea of free-to-use and dominant social platforms with millions of users forcibly making sweeping changes to its policies, like those announced by Instagram recently, seems extraordinarily unfair on the user," said Simon Walker, CEO and Founder of rival photo social network Glopho.
“We have always believed that sharing photos was a great idea, and with my own background in press photography I realised there could be real value in some of those photos. That is why Glopho actively seeks to sell those photos that users upload that we believe have the greatest value, but we are clear that ownership should remain with the user and that commercial use is agreed under licence. The revenue generated from such licensing is shared equally with the picture owner.”