Instagram tests new limits in user privacy

Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:15am EST
 
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By Gerry Shih and Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Instagram, which spurred suspicions this week that it would sell user photos after revising its terms of service, has sparked renewed debate about how much control over personal data users must give up to live and participate in a world steeped in social media.

In forcefully establishing a new set of usage terms, Instagram, the massively popular photo-sharing service owned by Facebook Inc, has claimed some rights that have been practically unheard of among its prominent social media peers, legal experts and consumer advocates say.

Users who decline to accept Instagram's new privacy policy have one month to delete their accounts, or they will be bound by the new terms. Another clause appears to waive the rights of minors on the service. And in the wake of a class-action settlement involving Facebook and privacy issues, Instagram has added terms to shield itself from similar litigation.

All told, the revised terms reflect a new, draconian grip over user rights, experts say.

"This is all uncharted territory," said Jay Edelson, a partner at the Chicago law firm Edelson McGuire. "If Instagram is to encourage as many lawsuits as possible and as much backlash as possible then they succeeded."

Instagram's new policies, which go into effect January 16, lay the groundwork for the company to begin generating advertising revenue by giving marketers the right to display profile pictures and other personal information such as who users follow in advertisements.

The new terms, which allow an advertiser to pay Instagram "to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata)" without compensation, triggered an outburst of complaints on the Web on Tuesday from users upset that Instagram would make money from their uploaded content.

The uproar prompted a lengthy blog post from the company to "clarify" the changes, with CEO Kevin Systrom saying the company had no current plans to incorporate photos taken by users into ads.   Continued...

 
Kevin Systrom, Chief Executive of Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app now owned by Facebook, displays his photo on a mobile phone during an interview with Reuters December 4, 2012 at the LeWeb technology conference in Aubervilliers, near Paris. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer