Instagram: 'Wait, Wait! That's Not What We Meant!'

from the responding-to-the-deluge dept

So, as the deluge of hate towards Instagram got louder and louder concerning its terms of service change, the company has now come out and said that it will change the terms and, of course, that it never meant them to be read the way people were interpreting them, and that it plans to adjust the terms so that people aren't so damn angry at them. On the question of "advertising on Instagram" they note:
From the start, Instagram was created to become a business. Advertising is one of many ways that Instagram can become a self-sustaining business, but not the only one. 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. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.

To provide context, we envision a future where both users and brands alike may promote their photos & accounts to increase engagement and to build a more meaningful following. Let's say a business wanted to promote their account to gain more followers and Instagram was able to feature them in some way. In order to help make a more relevant and useful promotion, it would be helpful to see which of the people you follow also follow this business. In this way, some of the data you produce — like the actions you take (eg, following the account) and your profile photo — might show up if you are following this business.

The language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we're going to remove the language that raised the question. Our main goal is to avoid things likes advertising banners you see in other apps that would hurt the Instagram user experience. Instead, we want to create meaningful ways to help you discover new and interesting accounts and content while building a self-sustaining business at the same time.
I'm sure this won't mollify some, but it is more or less what we had assumed they were trying to do in the first place. The blog post similarly notes that they're not claiming copyright on your images, nor are they mucking with your privacy settings.

In the end, we stand by our initial analysis: almost all of the complaints against Instagram's new terms of service were quite similar to complaints made against other terms of service in the past few years when someone got around to reading the details, which are hard to understand because of the annoying legalese that the lawyers want you to put in. Instagram -- and especially its new owners at Facebook -- should have realized ahead of time what was about to happen. They could have cut off an awful lot of this mess if they had posted a similar blog post before the new terms were released, or with the new terms explaining what they were really trying to do and why. When you let people imagine the worst, they will do so.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 3:57pm

    "They could have cut off an awful lot of this mess if they had posted a similar blog post before the new terms were released, or with the new terms explaining what they were really trying to do and why. When you let people imagine the worst, they will do so."

    But simply stating what they intended to do would do very little good, if that contradicted the actual terms. Even if the statement is made in good faith (and the public has no way of knowing), imagine if the company went into bankruptcy and was bought by less scrupulous people, who would now have the right to do all those nefarious things that the previous owners weren't ever planning to do.

    The only solution is to actually change the terms, which it appears they are doing. Good for them.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 4:10pm

      Re:

      Well, especially with terms that are simply assented to by using the service (i.e., not a signed contract), a public statement regarding how those terms should be interpreted would probably be given significant weight by a court regarding how to interpret the terms.

       

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 4:08pm

    Why would Facebook care?
    They gutted the process that was to allow the community to have a say in FB cashing in on them, why not extend that to all of their properties?

    Maybe the best money they could spend in the future is to hire people outside of the company and its plans to read the documentation and give feed back before foisting it on the world.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 4:20pm

    Instagram says they want to reserve the right to sell people's photos without compensation, then people saying they don't like them reserving that right. Then instagram saying, fine we will change it. There is no imagination required and instagram's original intentions are a moot point.

     

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    Antone Johnson (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 4:22pm

    Handled terribly, but the language itself is more expansive than necessary: Over-lawyering at its worst, preserving latitude for the company to such an extreme that, as we've seen, it gives fodder to the most imaginative fears and conspiracy theories of users, watchdogs and reporters.

    The issues that bother me the most relate to rights of privacy and publicity (which I recognize vary between states). The right to use my picture to sell *anything* to people, without my knowledge or consent, and without any ability to opt out, is frankly obnoxious. To do so in ads without even disclosing that they're ads is misleading to users on both ends (and, as you said, likely to get the FTC on their backs). Why include such language in the first place?

    Facebook itself does a far better job of explaining the permission sought, giving illustrative examples, and allowing users to opt out — if you dig deep enough into privacy settings. One of the most comforting aspects of what FB does is to only use profile pictures — most of which are probably visible to a billion people — and not any photos from within users' albums. That's a meaningful distinction.

     

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      vegetaman (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 8:41pm

      Re:

      Most of these agreements are "let me do the maximum I can for myself and the minimum I can for you". They couple this with the proper PR campaign and see what they can sneak by (which considering most of these agreements nobody reads, is quite a lot undoubtedly).

       

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 4:27pm

    I'm going to imagine the worst here:

    "They could have cut off an awful lot of this mess if they had posted a similar blog post before the new terms were released, or with the new terms explaining what they were really trying to do and why. When you let people imagine the worst, they will do so." -- That's no condemnation of the new policy, just advice to handle the announcement better, SO I think what you intend is you support corporations having absolute control over "user-generated" content. You downplay the real outrage and suggest users are just fools who need to be mollified.

    On much the same line, Mollifying Mike, you leave too much unsaid: I'm still waiting for bullet points outlining your views on the basis of copyright plus who owns the rights and what exact changes you'd like to see. Plus how to get back $100M of up-front costs on a movie ten cents at a time. Not suspending my respiration while waiting, though.






    A legend on his own site! Mike "Streisand Effect" Masnick!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect
    Take the link now! It's actually better than here!

     

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      Nigel (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 4:42pm

      Re: I'm going to imagine the worst here:

      I vote that we get to say why we flag this assholes posts and subsequently get to read about it in the weekend's funniest.

      And no, I do not kid.

      Nigel

       

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        Zimzat (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 5:43pm

        Re: Re: I'm going to imagine the worst here:

        People are already flagging these posts and they get collapsed. What I'd like to see is the option to also hide all replies in threaded view. Sometimes the responses are interesting, but more often than not I'd like to skip the entire thread and avoid a headache.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 5:29pm

      Re: I'm going to imagine the worst here:

      On much the same line, Mollifying Mike, you leave too much unsaid: I'm still waiting for bullet points outlining your views on the basis of copyright plus who owns the rights and what exact changes you'd like to see. Plus how to get back $100M of up-front costs on a movie ten cents at a time. Not suspending my respiration while waiting, though.

      You'll have a beard down to your ankles before that happens.

       

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      crade (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 7:21pm

      Re: I'm going to imagine the worst here:

      pretty demanding for someone who spams every article with off topic crap.

       

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      Josef Anvil (profile), Dec 19th, 2012 @ 12:39am

      Re: I'm going to imagine the worst here:

      I just couldn't resist a reply to this.

      While we all enjoy a good debate on copyright reform, I'm sure you could email Mike and request his thoughts on the subject if you really want a detailed response. As if he doesn't chime in enough already.

      The thing that caught my attention is the question of how to recoup the $100M up-front costs on a movie, ten cents at a time. WTF? Are you making a fuckin' movie and trying to finance it? Have you already made the movie and only have shitty marketing and distribution channels ? Why do you care so much about the up-front costs of movie making?

      Just so you understand, the people who make movies only use that line about $100M movies so they can coerce lawmakers. The goal in Hollywood is to make as many Blair Witch Projects as possible. They want to spend as little as possible and gross as much as possible. No one in Hollywood is trying to think up how to spend $100M so they can gross $150M. They are trying to think of ways to spend $10,000 and gross $400M. So even if Mike did tell you a way to recoup $100M, ten cents at a time, the makers of movies would STILL be trying to make movies for as little as they could get away with for the maximum return.

      Oh and btw, no one gives a shit if they hit the numbers $.10 at a time or $40 at a time.

       

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      btrussell (profile), Dec 19th, 2012 @ 1:30am

      Re: I'm going to imagine the worst here:

      "Plus how to get back $100M of up-front costs on a movie ten cents at a time."

      What do you mean how to get back $100M? You have a $100M dollar movie. What else do you want?

       

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    Philip (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 5:14pm

    "In the end, we stand by our initial analysis: almost all of the complaints against Instagram's new terms of service were quite similar to complaints made against other terms of service in the past few years when someone got around to reading the details, which are hard to understand because of the annoying legalese that the lawyers want you to put in. "

    That's not entirely true. In this instance, the wording of the TOS (new, mind you, not existing), did give the impression they would sell your photos to advertisers. So the concern was very real. Instagram just farked up their meaning when putting it down in legal mumbo-jumbo.

    While your interpretation as what they were trying to do is correct, the complaints over the language was quite valid.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 5:15pm

    There is very little that OOTB contributes to the discussion beyond fodder for response. Since he doesn't read the articles and doesn't read the responses most of the time, it's a very wasted effort to attempt to engage him in dialogue he won't read. Given that his sole purpose is to troll and nothing else, I much agree his posts would better serve the community being flagged as soon as they are posted. I for one, skip over his comments as he does everyone elses and just hit the report button to rack up the tally and move on.

    If it's taken people this long to figure out that FB is all about selling your data and just as much privacy breaking as they can get away with then you deserve all the advertisement they can shovel at you. It's not exactly like you're paying for the service. It's you being served for dinner and every one in the chairs are busy figuring how much of a slice of the meal they get and how they can get a bigger piece.

    I have a very easy solution to it. Never go to FB to begin with.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 5:35pm

    The way it was phrased the first time made it sound really bad. Anyways its still kind of annoying for users I'm sure but this is not as bad as people were thinking.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 5:50pm

    Oh please it's exactly what they meant, biblio faccia is now backing away from the out rage backlash for saying it will pimp all it's users uploads.

     

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    head lemur, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 6:40pm

    This is Beacon 2.0

    Facebook is using Instagram as a stalking horse for a new series of 'sponsored posts' aka Beacon 2.0

    http://www.ravinglunacy.org/index.php/2012/12/18/instagrams-tos-facebook-beacon-2-0/

     

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    Paul_Harvey's_ghost, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 7:14pm

    When you let people imagine the worst, they will do so.

    And its easy to do when the CEO is on record saying about passwords:

    "They trust me — dumb fucks,"

     

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    Dave Nelson, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 7:36pm

    Sorry, I really don't understand what the fuss is all about. Heinlein's TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) principle is alive and well in this digital age. It costs a bunch to host the site and send out all of those bits. ALL of the services, search, news, social, etc., have to pay for the service they provide, and they do that by selling either advertising or your data, or both. If you aren't paying them for it's use, like they say, you ARE the product.

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Dec 19th, 2012 @ 9:53am

      Re:

      This is true, and why I don't use these services.

      However, I think what we're seeing is a weird kind of negotiation between the suppliers (users) and the company regarding what the going rate for their information is.

      People are objecting because they feel that the price that was asked of them was too high considering the value they get out of the deal. The company came back with a counteroffer.

      Viewed that way, this is all a good and normal thing.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 8:16pm

    Corp screwed up by lawyers? Really?

    They do not have highly paid lawyers to come up with the most strict language reflecting business intention?

    Looks like a very honest company to trust your data with.

     

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    Zem, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 9:42pm

    Just don't look.

    This reminds me of the Simpson's episode where all the giant advertising came to like and destroyed Springfield. The solution there was "just don't look". Here it is "just don't use". Any company that is dependant on your freely provided content and information is extremely vulnerable to it's uses going elsewhere. The most dangerous part is that when you leave you don't come back, ever. Just stop using fb.

     

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    Chad, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 11:32pm

    Unfortunately..

    The line with regards to whether they will use images in advertisements: "We do not have plans for anything like this.."

    Unfortunately plans can change, and when the TOS is worded in a way that allows any advertisement plans to go through, it doesn't matter how it is worded.

    It would be like changing: "Give us supreme power over your images to do whatever we want with them, including advertising" to: "Give us supreme power over your images to do whatever we want with them, but this time we won't directly tell you how they may be used".

    It doesn't matter what their intentions are now. If given the power to do whatever they want with your images, always expect the worst. At the end of the day, it's as others have said... everything comes with a price, and if you're going to be using a free hosting service for your images, social or otherwise, expect them to hold at least some control over your images.

    If you want to keep your pictures private and your own... do just that.

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Dec 19th, 2012 @ 9:55am

      Re: Unfortunately..

      100% correct.

      What a company (or individual) claims is their intention means exactly nothing. The words written in the contract means everything.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2012 @ 12:24am

    I'm reminded of a system the modstaff at a forum I use use.

    "The onus is on the company to be as clear as possible. In cases of doubt about intent, we look at the context of the post."

     

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    Pete Austin, Dec 19th, 2012 @ 1:42am

    Instagram still claim the rights to your image

    Instagram still claim the rights to your image everywhere - not just in pictures posted to Instagram - and their response doesn't address that: "You agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your.. likeness ... in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you".

    This will be annoying for most people, but a real problem for celebs who also have Instagram accounts.

     

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      Pete Austin, Dec 19th, 2012 @ 1:47am

      Re: Instagram still claim the rights to your image

      The clarification in Instagram's blog post is as follows. Note that it only covers photos, presumably posted to Instagram, *NOT* your image. Could be a typo, or course, but I assume they have this stuff checked by lawyers.

      "The language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question."
      http://blog.instagram.com/post/38252135408/thank-you-and-were-listening

       

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      John Fenderson (profile), Dec 19th, 2012 @ 9:57am

      Re: Instagram still claim the rights to your image

      This will be annoying for most people


      As a non-FB or Instagram user, this bother me a great deal because I get featured in photos that are posted by my friends. What if my face is used one day without my permission? This goes beyond annoying and into damaging.

       

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    Fergie (profile), Dec 19th, 2012 @ 2:06am

    Re: Instagram still claim the rights to your image

    These people suffer from "Battered Wife" syndrome or similar ailments.

    They would leave if they could but believe they can change the way things are done.

    After all the abuse on Facebook I finally quit! I feel safer now and the abuse has stopped, finally!

     

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    Brent (profile), Dec 19th, 2012 @ 8:31am

    as we've all learned from reading this site, they legally cannot sell your photos in the first place b/c as the original artist, you have copyright protection. each 'sale' would be subject to 'infringement prosecution' (or whatever) and a bunch of lawyers would make a bunch of money off of it.

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Dec 19th, 2012 @ 9:58am

      Re:

      Nope. The EULA gives them a license to the photos. The users retain copyright, of course, but the company an still do what they like with the photos.

       

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    Galina Galanos, Dec 19th, 2012 @ 2:33pm

    That's not what we meant!

    You may have meant otherwise, but that's what you wrote. When I write I mean what I say, so I'm opting out of both Instagram and Facebook. You may change your mind whenever you want, but you cannot take away what you said.

     

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