The intended changes were meant to make Instagram more user friendly on Facebook, and were meant to help cut down on spam. The updated changes would kick in Jan. 16th, 2013. And, here’s the kicker, they put some tricky language in the new terms of service that transferred rights from the users who uploaded the images to Instagram. Essentially, this new policy would make it where Instagram could potentially sell your images to companies for profit. For example, you could post a photo of your dog on Instagram, and the platform could take that photo, and under their new Terms of Service, sell it to a company like Kibble and Bits. Next thing you know your photo could be on the cover of Kibble and Bits dog food without compensating you a penny or asking your permission. Not to worry, this language was removed from the new Terms of Service by the end of the day, due to user outrage.
Instagram’s initial updated Terms of Service were absolutely alarming, but I don’t think it’s reason enough to cancel your account just yet. Instagram’s willingness to listen and change it’s policies based on feedback, quickly and efficiently gives me hope that they will come to a mutually acceptable middle ground between the company and it’s users. I think users can continue to be confident that Instagram will continue to address major complaints. Not to mention, I think there is plenty of “hype” surrounding the issue that will soon subside. Most of the changes to their Terms of Service were over hyped up by tech journalists and poorly communicated by Instagram’s public relations team, exacerbating the existing problem.
Instagram has proven to be a powerful tool for marketing and PR pro’s thus far. My advice is hang on to your account, and ride it out until at least Jan. 16, 2013. If Instagram doesn’t shape up their terms of service by the 16th, then go ahead and switch to another platform, like Flicker. But I encourage you to wait out the storm at the very least, or sample the updated platform when it launches on Jan. 16th.
I can’t guarantee what roll Instagram will play in our company’s future, or how we will or won’t integrate the updated platform with our clients. What I can say as that we will at least give the platform a shot, and try it out for ourselves. Expect a follow up PR Tip Tuesday addressing the updated Instagram on a Tuesday following Jan. 16th, 2013.