After announcing that they were changing their terms of service, Instagram retracted the change after many users said they were planning on or did boycott the service.
While most of the changes were merely security and user experience updates there was one change that left users at odds with the service. In regards to advertising, the company stated that they had the right to sell photos uploaded via their system to advertisers without notification or payment.
The Downfall of Instagram?
The idea that Instagram could simply take user content and sell it without evening asking the content's owner baffled many users. While photographers seemed to be the most concerned that their work didn't actually belong to them, the change seemed to have a wide spread effect as general users, larger companies, such as National Geographic and technology professionals.
The general consensus by former and current Instagram users is that photos are their own and the notion that the company would use them without asking made users feel as if their security and privacy were compromised.
Many users immediately deleted their accounts as soon as the news broke, while others took to Twitter to express their concerns. One former Instagram user, Wired contributor Mat Honan blogged about the change. Honan treated Instagram as if it was a photo album saying he had pictures of his family and friends that he didn't want shared in advertisements. His post suggested that to him and other users, photos likened to personal items and it was as if Instagram was trying to steal them.
Appealing to the Customer
Due a large amount of backlash, the company issued a statement on their blog which said they had changed their advertising policy back to what is what in 2010, but that despite what the change had suggested, they couldn't sell user photos.
You also had deep concerns about whether under our new terms, Instagram had any plans to sell your content,” said Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram. “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.”
Whether the network bounces back from this potentially crippling mistake remains to be seen in the coming year.
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," said Systrom.