How Instagram’s New Terms of Service Impacts Your Privacy

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

How Instagram’s New Terms of Service Impacts Your Privacy

Instagram users were already nervous earlier this year when social media giant, Facebook, bought Instagram for a whopping $1 billion. Now, it appears Facebook may be trying to cash in their investment. Instagram released new terms of service on Monday that is leaving users concerned about their privacy.

The new terms were first spotted by The New York Times:

Instagram can share information about its users with Facebook, its parent company, as well as outside affiliates and advertisers. Instagram said that the changes to its privacy policy are a means to help Instagram “function more easily as part of Facebook by being able to share info between the two groups.” The potentially lucrative move will let advertisers in Facebook’s ad network use data and information that users have shared on Instagram, like details about favorite places, bands, restaurants or hobbies, to better target ads at those users.

You could star in an advertisement — without your knowledge. 
A section of the new terms of service, titled “Rights,” notes that Instagram will also be able to use your photographs and identity in advertisements. “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,” the new terms say. This means that photographs uploaded to Instagram could end up in an advertisement on the service or on Facebook. In addition, someone who doesn’t use Instagram could end up in an advertisement if they have their photograph snapped and shared on the service by a friend.

Underage users are not exempt.
 Athough Instagram says people must be at least 13 years old to sign up for the service, the new terms note that if a teenager signs up, they are agreeing that a parent or guardian is aware that their image, username and photos can also be used in ads.

Ads may not be labeled as ads.
 In another section of the updated terms, the company says ads will not necessarily be labeled as ads. “You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such,” the company wrote.

Want to opt out? Delete your account. The only way to opt out of the new Instagram terms is to not use the service. If you log into Instagram in any way, including through the Web site, mobile applications or any other services offered by Instagram, you agree to have your content used in ads. Instagram’s new terms of service say that “by accessing or using the Instagram website, the Instagram service, or any applications (including mobile applications) made available by Instagram (together, the “Service”), however accessed, you agree to be bound by these terms of use.”

Users are in an uproar and account holders such National Geographic and public celebrities are threatening to close their accounts or refuse to continue sharing until changes are made. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom apologized for any confusing language on the terms and said online: “Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram.” Updates to the terms are expected to be released within 30 days.

The privacy issues involved with this are extensive, and what Instagram does next will be important not only on a user-level but in the marketing world. Before, Instagram was focused on building a base, but now it appears they are trying to monetize it by using your information to target advertising. This kind of marketing is still in an infancy stage, but as the world continues to shift more and more online, expect privacy to get smaller.

We will be monitoring this topic and posting updates to the Matcha Design’s Facebook and Twitter, but in the meantime, you may want to review your own online privacy settings and think twice about what content you share with the online world.

About Matcha Design

Matcha Design is a full-service creative B2B agency with decades of experience executing its client’s visions. The award-winning company specializes in web design, logo design, branding, marketing campaign, print, UX/UI, video production, commercial photography, advertising, and more. Matcha Design upholds the highest personal standards for excellence and can see things from a unique perspective due to its multicultural background.  The company consistently delivers custom, high-quality, innovative solutions to its clients using technical savvy and endless creativity. For more information, visit MatchaDesign.com.

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