No, Instagram is far from shutting down, but many loyal users have been deleting their accounts in the course of the last hours — or are planning to, in the course of the next days. The Instagram community is in tumult over the newly released Terms Of Services that will become effective starting January 16, 2013.
What are the new Terms about?
It seems we are talking a lot about Instagram these days, but this time it will not be exactly a jolly little discussion about add-ons and improvements. The controversial points in the the new Terms are #1 an #2 of the “Proprietary Rights in Content on Instagram” section. They read as follows:
“1. Instagram does NOT claim ANY ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, applications, or any other materials (collectively, “Content”) that you post on or through the Instagram Services. 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.
2. Some of the Instagram Services are supported by advertising revenue and may display advertisements and promotions, and you hereby agree that Instagram may place such advertising and promotions on the Instagram Services or on, about, or in conjunction with your Content. The manner, mode and extent of such advertising and promotions are subject to change without specific notice to you.”
What does this all mean? Simply that by accepting the Terms you grant Instagram unlimited license to your uploaded material, which will give permission to the service to use all your photos however and wherever they like. This includes, and is not limited to, Facebook ads. Yes, you read that right.
As a matter of fact, we find the aforementioned terms offensive towards all the users that devoted part of their time not only to taking the photos and sharing them on Instagram, but also to establishing there relations thanks to the effort and passion they put in their photography. We would hiss and boo at these Terms for as long as necessary, if this would be enough. But unfortunately, hissing and booing will not change a thing. So let’s see…
What can be done?
If you value your photos enough and wish to have your say in how they are used and displayed, we warmly suggest you to delete your account before January 16, 2013. Deleting the account after said date will not prevent Instagram from using them as they see fit. If you want to keep your Instagram account — this is totally understandable — you can switch your account from public to private. According to the Terms, content from private accounts will not be used outside Instagram.
The Internet’s hugest success is in tricking many into thinking that everything published and shared publicly on the web is free to use for anybody; even if today this is commonly tolerated to some extent, it is actually not correct and it is especially outrageous to see big companies exploit the work of passionate users — professionals and amateur artists alike — for their purposes.
Do I have alternatives?
Heck, yes! Of course you do! Flickr recently released their new app, which not only comes with sharing features and a vast and diverse community, but also with some very cool editing capabilities, like many instant-like colored filters to enhance your mobile shots in a cinch. If you are just wishing to have a platform to share your images and keep them safe, we recommend the excellent OpenPhoto.
Update: Instagram Backpedals on New ToS.