The social media community has been up in arms about Instagram’s new terms of service, which feature a slew of updated items that could give the photo stream service permission to put its users’ images in its own advertisements.
The company has recently spoken out on these changes, assuring its fan base that it doesn’t intend to sell their photos. Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram, publicly addressed the app’s users’ in a post on the company’s official blog on Tuesday.
“I’m writing this today to let you know we’re listening and to commit to you that we will be doing more to answer your questions, fix any mistakes and eliminate the confusion,” Systrom wrote. “As we review your feedback and stories in the press, we’re going to modify specific parts of the terms to make it more clear what will happen with your photos.”
These newly released changes to Instagram’s terms of service will go into effect on Jan. 16 and will not apply to photos published before that date. One of the primary concerns raised by the new document was that Instagram would be able to integrate users’ photos into advertisements without their permission and without compensation. Systrom provided some clarity on this topic in his blog post, writing the following:
“Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we are going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true, and it is our mistake that the language is confusing."
The Instagram co-founder continued to write that the app does not claim any ownership over photos and does not have plans to display images uploaded by users in its advertisements. The photo-sharing service has taken this language out of its terms of service to avoid further confusion.
“Instagram users own their content, and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos,” Systrom wrote. “Nothing about this has changed. We respect that there are creative artists and hobbyists alike that pour their heart into creating beautiful photos, and we respect that your photos are your photos. Period.”
While it’s comforting that Instagram is acknowledging users’ concerns, it will remain unclear as to how this directly affects the user experience until the new terms come into play. Systrom emphasizes that privacy settings and ownership rights are unchanged, but Instagram’s new terms also include heavier integration with Facebook.
The app will be able to share information about its users with its parent company as a means of helping Instagram “function more easily as a part of Facebook by being able to share info between the two groups.”
Systrom did not mention this in his open letter to the Instagram community, but ended his note on open terms, saying that more updates will be “coming soon.”
“I am grateful to everyone for their feedback and that we have a community that cares so much,” he wrote. “We need to be clear about changes we make—this is our responsibility to you.”