Insta-hate: users wary of Instagram promises

A day after promising to remove language suggesting that users’ photos could potentially be resold for profit, Instagram hasn’t tweaked its policies -- and users remained skeptical of the company's explanations.

The popular mobile photo-sharing service announced the updated terms of service on Monday, causing an outcry over privacy rights. Kevin Systrom, co-founder of the Instagram service, posted an apology and explanation on Tuesday.

But with no change to the controversial terms in sight, many users of the service remained angry and skeptical.

“Basically, you were trying to trick users with unclear language and were caught. Facebook bad habits are rubbing of on you since the purchase. Shame on you Instagram,” wrote Instagram-user Wayne on Wednesday.


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“I and other semi-pro photographers I know are super queasy about sharing photos [on Facebook and Instagram]. But that’s what clients want … and now I’m going to pay more attention to those terms of service,” wrote another.

The heart of the issue was Monday's revision, described as an effort to fight spam more effectively, detect system and reliability problems more quickly, and build better features for everyone. It also included the following sentence:

“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.”

Many took the word “transferable” to mean the company could resell their images, potentially for profit, without handing the photographer a dime. Systrom set out to clarify that vague wording on Tuesday.

“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.”

The company did not immediately respond to requests for more information on when changes would arrive. Meanwhile, users argued back, claiming the wording was intentionally vague.

“Legal documents are not easy to misinterpret—they are easy to interpret, so easily that they can be interpreted to the benefit of who can make the best argument,” wrote Instagram-user Nadia.

“While I agree with the spirit of this post, you clearly had enough time to consult with users and lawyers before you released new and inflammatory wording."

"Until you remove it and actually DO something about it, I will not be swayed.”