Newly announced changes to Instagram’s terms and conditions give the Facebook -owned photo-sharing site ‘perpetual’ rights to all images uploaded, and allow Instagram to use them for commercial purposes without identification.”You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such,” the new terms say.
That may let advertisers use teenagers’ photos for marketing, raising privacy and security concerns, Jeffrey Chester, executive director for the centre for Digital Democracy, told Bloomberg.
Facebook itself was sued by users angry that their images had been used as part of ‘sponsored stories’, and settled the case in June by making a $10m donation to charity.
At the time, Facebook claimed that any user who clicked ‘like’ on a brand was effectively giving their consent to be used in commercial content.
Instagram itself claims the January 16 changes do not represent substantial changes. They bring the site’s terms largely in line with those of its parent company. Such legal language is also commonplace among the terms and conditions of websites, but Instagram’s proposals do appear to go further than its competitors.
“It’s asking people to agree to unspecified future commercial use of their photos,” Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Cnet . “That makes it challenging for someone to give informed consent to that deal.”
The new terms change the existing ‘limited licence’ that Instagram users granted the site to ‘transferable’ and ‘sub-licensable’, and permit the sale of rights to companies for marketing purposes.
Google’s terms for its Picasa and Google+ sites are less strict; when Yahoo tried previously to introduce similar terms, it backed down within days in the face of public protest.
Facebook, operator of the world’s largest social network with more than 1 billion users, is looking for ways to increase revenue across its services. Instagram, popular with teens and young adults, reached more than 100 million users, Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in September.
Facebook “sees teens as a digital goldmine,” said Chester, whose group is focused on privacy issues. “We will be pressing the Federal Trade Commission to issue policies to protect teen privacy.”
If users are younger than 18, then they “represent” that at least one parent or guardian has also agreed to content being used in marketing, according to the updated usage terms. The changes are aimed at protecting members while preventing abuse, Instagram said in a blog.