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Instagram Sneaks In Terms of Service Update Right Before the End of the World




Facebook Instagram Logo BlendOK, folks. At 11:11 am EST you can rest easy when the world comes to a dramatic end because it looks like Instagram has heard Instagram-nation, has been beaten into submission (which in Internet terms means issuing a mea culpa) and is attempting to make nice (which in this case is going back to the old terms of service that no one likely read in the first place).

Kevin Systrom, co-founder and front facing executive for this whole ‘incident’, issued Instagram’s solution in a post late yesterday. Let’s break the post down and try to translate for us common folk.

Earlier this week, we introduced a set of updates to our privacy policy and terms of service to help our users better understand our service. In the days since, it became clear that we failed to fulfill what I consider one of our most important responsibilities – to communicate our intentions clearly. I am sorry for that, and I am focused on making it right.

TRANSLATION: Earlier this week we acted like our owner, Facebook, and tried to change the rules of engagement with our users to our best benefit. In order for us to keep you here and make the money we need to make I have to apologize.

The concerns we heard about from you the most focused on advertising, and what our changes might mean for you and your photos. There was confusion and real concern about what our possible advertising products could look like and how they would work.

TRANSLATION: We really want to use your images any way we can to make money but we need to do it in a way that looks less like we are taking advantage of your photography and more like a concerned netizen.

Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010. You can see the updated terms here.

TRANSLATION: Because I bolded this part it is likely the only piece anyone who actually reads this post will see. Mainly because we saw that we might actually lose users we are retreating back to the original position we had which is the same one that most of you didn’t have a clue even existed until now.

Going forward, rather than obtain permission from you to introduce possible advertising products we have not yet developed, we are going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work.

TRANSLATION: We screwed up! We told you too much. We will never do that again. Instead we will do what we want then push it on you again. This time though it will be so far forward that you just submit to it because we are making it look like your opinion counts.

You also had deep concerns about whether under our new terms, Instagram had any plans to sell your content. I want to be really clear: Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don’t own your photos – you do.

TRANSLATION: This is semantics folks. We are not selling your photos. We are using your photos to sell ads so others can sell things. Sure we’re making money using your work and not compensating you but we are not selling your photos! That wouldn’t be right!

Finally, there was also confusion about how widely shared and distributed your photos are through our service. The distribution of your content and photos is governed by our privacy policy, and always has been. We have made a small change to our terms to make that as clear as possible.

TRANSLATION: We really doubt that 99.5% of the people using Instagram even knew this stuff happened. They don’t have a clue about what is next and will be thrilled to learn that the old privacy policy that they never read and were never impacted by is still in place so everything must be fine like it was before this whole thing happened. Get it?

You can view the current terms and privacy policy, as well as review the updated terms and privacy policy that will take effect on January 19, 2013.

TRANSLATION: We had to say this so we can point back to having said it when you bitch and moan about something else in the future. Even though you won’t read it now we are technically not responsible because we told you to read it.

I’m proud that Instagram has a community that feels so strongly about a product we all love. I’m even more proud that you feel empowered to be vocal and approach us with constructive feedback to help us build a better product. Thank you for your feedback, and I look forward to all that Instagram has to bring in the New Year.

TRANSLATION: I can’t believe the Internet elite who make up a really small portion of the overall Instagram crowd dont’ have anything better to do than try to keep us from making some cash. You guys gave us a scare and used up a week of our time so I have to appear contrite to make you shut up. Please leave us alone in the future because we have to make a lot of money since we are owned by Facebook and we are not really the Instagram you knew and loved when we were just having fun and trying to cash out by being bought.

Phew I am glad we have that all straightened out now. That was easy wasn’t it?