Instagram’s New Terms Could Impact Your Business

Photo sharing app Instagram’s new terms of use have a lot of users worried because of a new provision that states Instagram can sell photos to businesses or other third parties without permission from the user.

The terms state that shared photos can be used:

“. . .in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”

Theoretically, this means that if you upload a photo of, say, your dog, Instagram could sell it to a pet food company for them to use in advertising materials. And this could be done without you ever being notified or compensated.

But just because Facebook, which completed its purchase of Instagram three months ago, can sell images to companies doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily setting up a stock photo service where advertisers can buy these images from Facebook without any money going to the people who actually took the photos.

More likely, the updated policy means that Instagram may intend to use your content as part of its own advertising or in conjunction with Facebook’s advertising products.

So what does this mean for your business?

If you use Instagram for promotional purposes, then you shouldn’t upload any content that you wouldn’t want distributed to other companies for advertising or similar purposes.

However, Instagram already reserved some rights over shared photos under a “limited license,” and the new terms maintain that users still retain ownership of their images. But users that are worried about images being distributed within sponsored content on Instagram, Facebook, or other channels may want to explore other photo sharing options.

The new terms of use become effective January 16, 2013 and there is no way for users to opt out of the new provisions aside from deleting their accounts altogether before the January deadline.

There are several third party sites such as Instaport and Copygram that allow Instagram users to save all their photos from the site so that they can have access to them if they choose to delete their accounts.

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

4 Reactions
  1. Thanks, Annie.

    Maybe the words of the year should be:

    “New terms of use.”

    This is getting ridiculous.

    Thanks for the update.

    The Franchise King®

  2. I think that this is not a good move for them. If they don’t rethink this, they stand to lose a lot of business, money, and will possibly cease to exist before long.