Instagram Not Selling Photos, It Says After Backlash

Instagram CEO promises it won't sell your photos or place them in ads.

ByABC News
December 18, 2012, 5:19 PM

Dec. 18, 2012 — -- Instagram has heard the mass outrage (including the celebrities') in response to its new terms of service, and says it will clear things up.

After confusion over its new Terms of Service, which implied Instagram might sell photos to advertisers, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom responded this afternoon in a blog post. Systrom said that he and the company are "listening" and that they plan to "modify specific parts of the terms to make it more clear what will happen with your photos."

The part that most users will be happy to hear? "It was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear."

He also said he wants to clear up the confusion about Instagram's intent to put anyone's photos in ads. "The language we proposed also raised question 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."

Systrom does say advertising will make its way to Instagram's platform and that the company would like to "experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram." Instagram was purchased by Facebook in April for $1 billion; the company has not been profitable.

But while today's battle may be over, the backlash and the distrust of Facebook as Instagram's owner will likely continue. On Twitter it quickly became known as "Instagate." Many took to blaming the new policy changes on Facebook.

"In fact, the real lesson here isn't about the legal implications of Instagram's terms of service — it's about how little we trust Facebook to do the right thing," Nilay Patel, the managing editor of the tech site The Verge and a former patent attorney, said in an article.

Ultimately though, "Instagate" might have been a good reminder for users of just how quickly companies can change their policies and the awareness they should have of them. "It's a good reminder for users in an age of the personal cloud to understand just what vendors can do with their content and how they choose to monetize," Michael Gartenberg, research director at Gartner Inc., told ABC News. "I suspect very few users bothered to read Instagram's original terms of service and therefore the 'new' terms simply made them aware just what they agreed to."