It started out as the classic Facebook privacy dance: two steps forward, one step back.

From CNET this morning, via The Daily Beast:

 

Instagram says it now has the right to sell your photos

In its first big policy shift since Facebook bought the photo-sharing site, Instagram claims the right to sell users’ photos without payment or notification. Oh, and there’s no way to opt out.

Instagram said today that it has the perpetual right to sell users’ photographs without payment or notification, a dramatic policy shift that quickly sparked a public outcry.

The new intellectual property policy, which takes effect on January 16, comes three months after Facebook completed its acquisition of the popular photo-sharing site. Unless Instagram users delete their accounts before the January deadline, they cannot opt out.

 

As it happens, it was Instagram that opted out.

After one Tweeter labeled the announcement “Instagram’s suicide note,” the photo-sharing site shared this blame-it-on-the-lawyers excuse (via PCWorld):

 

Instagram: ‘Legal documents are easy to misinterpet’

Put down those artistically filtered torches and pitchforks: Instagram is dialing back its unpopular terms of service update.

After Instagram users began exporting their photos and deleting their accounts en masse, the photo-sharing service on Tuesday wrote a blog post to clarify the terms of service changes that sparked fury on the Internet the past two days.

At issue were concerns over whether Instagram would sell your photos to be used in advertisements without your permission or compensation, as the policy seemed to indicate. High-profile Instagram users, including photographers and bloggers, had threatened to abandon the site—if they hadn’t left already.

In a post titled, “Thank you, and we’re listening,” Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said “legal documents are easy to misinterpret.”

“Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram,” Systrom said. “Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos.”

 

Doesn’t mention anything about not using them, though.

As we said – two steps forward, one step back.

 


John Carroll, who also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town, is a media analyst and mass communication professor at Boston University.
John Carroll has 258 post(s) on Sneak Adtack