Instagram, the popular photo sharing app has often frequented the news this year, first and foremost for its $1 billion acquisition by Facebook. Today it has created controversy by updating its privacy policies to bring about some very unwelcome terms for its users.
The updated terms and conditions allow Instagram the right to sell users’ photos to advertisers without notification. This would be pretty detrimental in itself, but the terms also stipulate that, unless users delete their Instagram accounts by a deadline of 16 January, they cannot opt out. For the final nail in the coffin, privacy is now non-existent. By using Instagram you agree that they “may share your information as well as information from tools like cookies, log files, and device identifiers and location data with organisations that help us provide the service to you and third-party advertising partners.”
Anyone thinking the sharing of information isn’t so bad will also be pleased to hear that Instagram is also planning to sell your username, likeness and photos with no compensation, monetary or otherwise.
The move comes after Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s VP of Global Marketing Solutions, proudly proclaimed earlier this month; “Eventually we’ll figure out a way to monetise Instagram.” For its part, Instagram claims that it is making the changes in order to make it easier to work with Facebook, however, many users have already taken to social media to decry the changes.
#BoycottInstagram is already trending on Twitter and some analysts are already questioning the legality of the move. Alan Pelz-Sharpe, research director at 451 Research, claimed: “It’s a barefaced tactic that Facebook and Instagram have taken, and one that will likely meet with many challenges, legally and ethically. Larger firms like Facebook are essentially trailblazing before specific regulations can catch up with them, and as we have seen with Google in the past, regulations and laws have limited real impact on their business operations – so they tend to move forward regardless of opposition.”
It also raises the question of people who are in photos but do not have an Instagram account. They are not giving their permission to Instagram to sell the photos, but may find themselves featured in advertising. Hopefully, this move by the Instagram team will promote competition for a worthy successor which has more regard for user privacy.
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