When Facebook bought Instagram for a cool $1billion, there were concerns the photo-sharing service would eventually be sucked into Facebook's 'users are the product' model. At the time, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued Instagram wouldn't change, but new terms and conditions that go into effect on 16 January will mark a major change for the service. As of that date, subsequent photos uploaded can have their information shared with affiliates and advertisers, and your image could be used in an advert without your knowledge or consent. Bizarrely, the terms also state: "You acknowledge that [Instagram] may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such," which means adverts may not obviously be adverts. Naturally, there's no opt-out – you can merely delete your account – and Instagram bafflingly argues nothing's changed regarding ownership of photographs, despite the service seemingly being able to use them however it likes.
Photographer Clayton Cubitt posted a grab of the terms to Instagram itself, dubbing the image "Instagram's suicide note", and on Twitter, experience designer Aral Balkan remarked: "To avoid disappointment: next time someone starts a 'free' social network and asks you to jump on, just say 'no'." Product designer Faruk Ate also noted that Flickr does not have similar terms and still enables you to retain full ownership of uploads: "Flickr respects whatever license I set to my photos, and so I set them to CC-BY. Instagram gives me no choice, and so I'm inclined to leave." He said the difference between the two companies was clear, with Instagram choosing a path dependent on selling the user as a product, and Flickr seeing its service as the product. "Given that Instagram's new terms won't apply to photos shared before January 16th, I'll keep my profile in case they about-face on this," he added, although plenty of users are already deleting their accounts in protest, exporting data using Instaport and Recollect before doing so.
Instagram's press team did not return .net's request for comments on its new terms.
Update (December 19): Instagram has posted about its new terms, in an attempt to "eliminate confusion". It states user photos will not form part of adverts, but adverts may not be obvious, in order to "increase engagement". It's your social graph that's up for grabs, not your images. Ownership rights remain respected, as do privacy settings.