Everybody got the memo from Instagram regarding the new TOS and Privacy Policy which are taking effect starting today? Did you decide to stay or did you bail out? If you are still in limbo, confused and unsure what to do, well, maybe this post will help make it a little bit clearer of what is it that you get yourself into today ūüôā

First, let’s recap what happened. On the 17th of December last year, Instagram notified its customer that they were changing their Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. This new terms would take in effect on the 16th of January 2013. Immediately the blogosphere erupted with negative reactions, accusing Instagram to sell out their user contents and info to third parties, without giving back any compensation to the original owners. That’s basically the offending part of the TOS that gave the much reaction from the public.

The following day, Kevin, CEO of Instagram, wrote a blog post, practically apologising about the new Term and retracting the offending part from it. The cut-off date was also extended to the 19th of January.

Everybody was happy to hear this, once again the voice of the masses won. In some respect it was, we managed to get Instagram to back out on this one particular thing, I’m sure Facebook wasn’t very happy about it. But the problem is, there is in fact another part of the new updated ¬†TOS which we should have also taken notice. This part is in fact giving Instagram more Rights to the user contents more than the old one. And if you decide to stay, or still undecided, you should think about how you feel about this.

Here is what the old TOS said:

By displaying or publishing (“posting”) any Content on or through the Instagram Services, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content, including without limitation distributing part or all of the Site in any media formats through any media channels, except Content not shared publicly (“private”) will not be distributed outside the Instagram Services.

And here is the new one:

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, subject to the Service’s Privacy Policy.

Please notice the difference in the license. On the old TOS, users, that’s you, were giving Instagram a ‘limited license‘ to use your content you posted to Instagram. This is actually a common terms used among internet services, basically we give permission to Instagram to show our contents (photos) and info publicly (unless you chose to set account private). Without this clause Instagram would be able to function as it should be.

The new TOS however, removed the ‘limited license’ and replaced it with ‘transferable‘ and ‘sub-licensable‘. ‘Transferable means, as far as I understood, that Instagram may transfer its license (to use the user contents and info) to other parties! Sub-licensable means that Instagram may do so (transferring license) without it losing that license themselves (i.e. they retain their license).

What does these changes mean in a layman term (and please if you think I’m wrong in this, let me know)? It means that not only that we are giving permission to Instagram to use our photos how ever they like, but we are also giving permission to Instagram to grant the same right to any third parties of its choosing!

Meaning that we are still not out in the clear on this subject. And it doesn’t really help when the terms are worded as such that the implication is kept as general as it can be.

Granted that Kevin on his post stated that Instagram is going to use this to enable them to freely experiment on inovative advertising, and that they don’t have any intention to sell user’s photos. Even if we trust Kevin, what about Facebook? They would want to get something out of that billion they spent to buy Instagram. Or who knows what can happen in the future? The Terms is certainly allowing Instagram to change it whenever they want.

Regardless of what things might happen in the future, you will need to make a decision, either:

1. You can delete your account entirely, which means you don’t have any problem anymore. This post will tell you how and where to delete your account.
2. You can stay but delete all your important photos that you don’t want Instagram to use. And take care in the future which photo you will post.
3. You stay and just leave everything as it is, Instagram can use all your stuff as they please. You simply don’t care.

I personally am staying, but from today I will only post photos selectively. I might also delete my old photos, though it would be quite hard to do it. It’s not as much as the photo that I care but more the old conversations I used to have with friends in those photos. Those comments are invaluable.

Hopefully this will help you to make your decision. It seems to me that an era has just passed, and am feeling a bit nostalgic. Instagram, for what its worth, had helped me rediscover my passion in photography and also allowed me to meet with awesome individuals, from every corner of the world. And for that I thank Instagram. I wish them the best in this new year 2013.

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