Social media

Instagram U-turn on photo 'sales'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 December, 2012, 5:02am


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Instagram has backed down on a policy plan that appeared to clear the way for the mobile photo sharing service to sell pictures without compensation following complaints from users.

Kevin Systrom, the co-founder of Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, said in a blog post: "The language we proposed also raised questions 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. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos."

Changes to the Instagram privacy policy and terms of service set to take effect January 16 had included wording that appeared to allow people's pictures to be used by advertisers at Instagram or Facebook worldwide, royalty-free.

Systrom did not specify how the terms of service wording would be changed.

Original portions of the new policy that rankled users included "You hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide licence to use the content that you post on or through the service."

The terms also stated that "a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos, and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you."

Twitter user Liz Heron said on the message service: "I quit Instagram on principle. I'm tired of contributing to the commodification (sic) of my own existence."

Instagram said that the changes were part of a move to better share information with Facebook, which bought the company this year.

Internet rights activists at the Electronic Frontier Foundation had called on Instagram to reconsider the new policy, saying it violated "key principles" for social networking services.

Instagram, which has 100 million users, is seeking to route photo viewers to its own website, where it has the potential to make money from ads or other mechanisms. This month, the service made it impossible for internet users to view its images in messages at Twitter.

Previously, Instagram pictures shared in messages tweeted from smartphones could be viewed unaltered at Twitter.

Twitter responded by adding Instagram-style photo sharing features of its own.

Web users on Hong Kong's online forums were unhappy about the possible changes of terms. One wrote on "Let's stop using it."