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Criticism following Instagrams decision to change its terms and conditions

Written by Rachel Pellatt on 19 December 2012

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Instagram is a social networking site where users upload and share their photos. The site has built up a reputation by becoming a popular way to interact, which led to social networking site Facebook buying the rights to the company in September. The cash-and-stock deal was worth about $740 million by the time it was completed. However at this present moment, Instagram is in the centre of a very controversial situation following a change in their terms and conditions of use. These terms and conditions of service were intended to become enforceable from the 16 January 2013 and stated;

'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...You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.'

This clause caused widespread outraged as it proposed to allow Instagram to have rights over all content published by its users on its site and have the ability to use this data to either sell the content to advertisers or promote sponsored content with or without the consent of the user.

Following the anger and dismay of both celebrity and ordinary users, co-founder Kevin Systrom posted on his blog 'thank you, and we're listening' as a means of telling users they have heard their concerns. He insisted that Instagram was not claiming ownership rights of the content published on its website and has no plans to sell pictures to advertisers and that the whole situation had arisen from misinterpretation. In a statement Mr. Systrom stated: '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.'

The reason the terms of service were changed initially was because Instagram wanted to experiment with innovative advertising. He insisted: 'Instagram was created to become a business' and that advertising is one of the ways that it can become 'self sustaining'. Accordingly changes are going to be made to the terms of service to make them as clear and understandable as possible to prevent the situation arising again by way of a separate document. This is aimed at helping Instagram operate without difficulty as part of Facebook.

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