Instagram’s Policy Shift: Take a Deep Breath

Instagram lovers everywhere can take a deep breath and go back to contemplating which filter to post their New Year’s pictures through.

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Photo-sharing social media giant Instagram was recently reminded how powerful words can be when users read their updated privacy policy and terms of service, which set off a ripple of apprehension among their aesthetic-appreciating fans. The language used in the policy update led users to believe that the company, which was acquired by Facebook last year for $1 billion, would now have the right to sell photos posted on the app without payment or notification. Take a deep breath – that’s not the case.


All of a sudden the widely adored app was under fire with throngs of Instagramers threatening to quit using the site and go elsewhere to express their lives visually. Should YOU quit Instagram? Is this another business trying to leach potential income from your creative digital endeavors? Luckily, Instagram lovers everywhere can just take a deep breath and go back to contemplating which filter to post their New Year’s through.

The two statements that had everyone up in arms were worded in a way that had users believing the following:

  1. The first section replaced the phrase “limited license” with the words “transferable” and “sub-licensable,” which had users believing that Instagram would allow Facebook (Instagram’s parent company) to license their photos other organizations without their permission.
  2. Another section stated “a business or other entity may pay us to display your… photos… in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”, which users thought would reasonably give Facebook the right to earn money from the photos you post.

Hence the concern among users, as they now believed that Instagram would have the right to license any of their photos for commercial use, with Instagram receiving the financial gain.  Instagram states below what they intended: the desire for better functioning through Facebook. The language in the policy has since been updated, and will go into effect on January 19.

Instagram Policies

As the company felt the heat, they revised the wording of their updated policies to reflect their understanding of the concerns of their users. They’ve updated the privacy policy to include a “snapshot”, so, while it is essential to read the policy thoroughly to fully understand it, users can get the meat of it in concise languages that outlines the policies in a condensed, easy to understand format.

Everyone can relax because nothing has changed as they states:

We’re updating our Privacy Policy to highlight this new collaboration [with Facebook], but we want to make sure you understand that you still have control over who sees your photos. You still get to choose who can see your Instagram photos, and you still get to choose whether you post your photos on Facebook. So while we’re looking forward to working closely with Facebook to build better experiences, we aren’t changing the core features of the app that you’ve come to know and love.

In sum, don’t be scared to post that adorable picture of your niece taking her first steps. Crop it. Enhance it with your favorite filter. And then stay tuned to future policy changes from Instagram, for they will surely come as they grow, not just as a service for creative expression, but as a business.

Post written by Tia Marie Kemp aka @TiaMarieKemp. To learn more from Sociality Squared, become a fan!

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