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Big Brother is Instagramming You

I wasn’t born yesterday, I’m aware that by writing this blog and using the likes of Facebook the content I create is largely fair game.  I tend to go by the general belief that most people wouldn’t be all that interested in me really, so it hasn’t ever been a big issue for me.

But the Instagram news has bothered me. This is what they say in their Terms & Conditions:

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.


Broadly speaking anything I post to Instagram can be sold by Instagram to advertisers and I’m not entitled to a penny and by simply joining this site I have given Instagram license to use my content how they choose.

Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service

It all makes me more than a little uneasy.  Yes I post content to my blog (and let’s face it, Google own this for now) and yes I have been naively posting content to Facebook for years (which I have to have a word with myself about now too) but there’s something about all my photographs being fair game for the service that facilitates their creation.  It’s a tricky one though because without Instagram I wouldn’t be taking so many pictures but is that really a reason for them to claim a royalty free license to use them?  I don’t think so.

The message from the founder today Thank you and we’re listening, was just plain weird:

Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.

 I’m not clear on how “without any compensation to you” can be misinterpreted, and whilst we’re not all lawyers, we’re not all morons either and the language is not that bewildering.  It’s just odd.  They need some decent PR advice and while they’re at it what is “innovative advertising”?  Could it be using our pictures in their ads?  There’s an idea.

Social media was intended to be democratic, but there’s such confusion over the privacy settings on the likes of Facebook and the Instagram news just underpins how Big Brother it’s all become. But it’s way too late to stop the avalanche. There’s bugger all we can do apart from close our accounts I guess. But then we won’t be able to make our rubbish pictures look brilliant.  Tough call.

It’s a shame, it was a great idea, but it’s just not fair and, like my daughters, I don’t like things that aren’t fair.

Rant over.

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