Let’s be clear: despite the headlines, Instagram hasn’t actually removed the offensive parts of the policy update. All they’ve done is say they will.
The changes won’t go into effect until January 16th, 2013, but here’s are the parts that everyone’s upset about:
“You hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service.”
“Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”
Translation: even though you own your photos and personal information, Instagram and its affiliates/advertisers can still use them to make advertising money. And even though they’re making money off of you, you don’t get any of it.
Even though Instagram is doing damage control and stating that they don’t intend to sell your photos to advertisers, the language of the policy is clear. When it comes down to it, the words in the legal document are the only ones that affect users’ rights, not what the co-founder is saying in a blog post or to the press.
It’s unclear whether Instagram is planning any updates to changes that bothered users most, or whether they view their explanatory blog post as sufficient. In any case, Instagram users will want to pay keen attention over the next 30 days to what’s going to happen with their data, and maybe even quit the service altogether. (Here’s how to back up your photos first).
This incident should remind users that “free” services like Instagram and Facebook come with a price: your personal information.