Instagram has just announced changes to its terms of service which have annoyed pretty much anyone, anywhere including me. The new TOS will come into affect from 16th January and this will include a number of new stipulations which have been described as the most significant changes in its history. It refers to how user photos can be used by the company and of course its most recent owner Facebook.

These two points particularly caught my eye in its rights section:

Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. 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. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf.

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

This is interesting, so now you are going to take our content and sell it on without asking us? Nice work Facebook – coughs, sorry Instagram. You guys really do love a privacy policy though don’t you?

So what can I do to avoid this happening?

This is very simple – delete your account before the 16th. Yes that really is your only option.

I have seen other advice such as setting your account to private but that is pretty pointless if you use it to network, so that’s not really an option either although it will keep your content online.

The only other thing you can do is save your photos and use a different photo sharing site like Picasa. I imagine Twitter might be rubbing its hands together now as people begin to migrate from Instagram to other image providers.

In my opinion, this is crass, distasteful, and nothing short of pathetic but as its a free service there is very little we can do about it. It’s a real shame as it is a brilliant little app that was moving in the right direction. It  will be interesting to see what happens when one of the more high profile users like pop star Rihanna – gives it the boot. Do they really think Pop stars are going to allow them to use their imagery? I think this is Facebook’s Gerald Ratner moment. It’s one of the worst decisions I think I have ever seen – it’s profit over actual product.

About Chris Norton

Chris Norton is the founder of Prohibition and an award winning communications consultant with more than twenty years’ experience. He was a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and has had a varied PR career having worked both in-house and in a number of large consultancies. He is an Integrated PR and social media blogger and writes on a wide variety of blogs across a huge amount of topics from digital marketing, social media marketing right through to technology and crisis management.