Instagram furor triggers first class action lawsuit
By Dan Levine
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook's Instagram photo sharing service has been hit with what appears to be the first civil lawsuit to result from changed service terms that prompted howls of protest last week.
In a proposed class action lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court on Friday, a California Instagram user leveled breach of contract and other claims against the company.
"We believe this complaint is without merit and we will fight it vigorously," Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in an e-mail.
Instagram, which allows people to add filters and effects to photos and share them easily on the Internet, was acquired by Facebook earlier this year for $715 million.
In announcing revised terms of service last week, Instagram spurred suspicions that it would sell user photos without compensation. It also announced a mandatory arbitration clause, forcing users to waive their rights to participate in a class action lawsuit except under very limited circumstances.
The current terms of service, in effect through mid-January, contain no such liability shield.
The backlash prompted Instagram founder and CEO Kevin Systrom to retreat partially a few days later, deleting language about displaying photos without compensation.
However, Instagram kept language that gave it the ability to place ads in conjunction with user content, and saying "that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such." It also kept the mandatory arbitration clause. Continued...