Instagram Surrenders On Privacy Policy, Returns To Old TOS

Quick, someone get Kim Kardashian on the line! Instagram has heard complaints loud and clear, and has decided to scrap the new privacy policy altogether and return to the old terms of service.

Just a few days ago, Instagram enraged its users with a new privacy policy, which seemed to indicate that the photo-sharing service would start selling their users’ pictures, and that there’s nothing users can do about it but leave. In response, many left, despite promises from Instagram big-wigs to revise the language and make it clearer – they say they never intended to sell user photos.

Instead of revising the language, Instagram threw it out completely in favor of the old terms of service that have been in place since October 2010.

Here’s the official about-face from Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Whether or not Instagram ever meant to sell user photos isn’t really the question. We gave Instagram the benefit of the doubt in this regard, even though the privacy policy language was indeed ambiguous. The real question is whether or not Instagram’s 180 on the issue comes too late to stop the exodus away from the popular photo-sharing service.

The Week reports:

“Pheed, a 9-week-old Instagram-like app that lets users monetize their pics by charging followers to see their posts, soared to no. 9 on iTunes’ list of most downloaded social networking apps this week. Flickr’s mobile app also vaulted up the charts. Camera+ got in a dig, promising users it would ‘never do shady things with your shared pics because it just isn’t right.’ “

Instagram will probably recover from their privacy policy blunder, but Charles Cooper of CNET opined that the service should learn from their social spanking and use more discretion when it comes to future policy changes.

“If the wording is not crystal clear, then don’t hit the ‘publish’ button before the terms are understandable to a 10-year-old.”

Did you leave Instagram over their new privacy policy?

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a seasoned professional with a strong background in growth strategies and editorial responsibilities. Kokou has been instrumental in driving companies' expansion and fortifying their market presence. His academic credentials underscore his expertise; having studied Communication at the Università degli Studi di Siena (Italy), he later honed his skills in growth hacking at the Growth Tribe Academy (Amsterdam).

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