A painting of me

Instagram's Terms of Service

   17 December 2012, mid-afternoon

Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf. — The new Instagram terms of service, emphasis mine.

In the back of my mind I knew this day would come, but now that it’s here it isn’t any less disappointing. Instagram’s new rules are pretty draconian. A lot of times websites will have unfortunately worded terms of service, but they often written the way they are to facilitate displaying your content on their servers, etc. This language seems quite clear when it comes to Instagram / Facebook

Flickr’s new iOS application is quite nice, but I don’t know how I feel about spamming my Flickr feed with photos of Mythilli. Part of the original appeal of Instagram was that it was a nice light-weight way to share little snapshots. Flickr is a big mix of people posting one-off photos, big sets of photos from their vacations, and all sorts of other random stuff. Still, Flickr probably has the nicest terms of service when it comes to this sort of thing.

I really love Instagram, so this change is really bumming me out.



  1. What is Draconian about the terms of service change? I think your use of that adjective is Draconian. Booyaka!

    Out of curiosity, how much would you be willing to pay to use their service and retain ownership of your content?

    I am curious to know how close your number is to the actual cost of providing the service for “free”.

  2. A one year pro account on Flickr is $24.95. I think i’d be willing to pay half that for Instagram, so let’s say $1 a month. When they were bought they had 13 employees managing 30 million users. (They are at 100 million now.) Let’s say only 1% were willing to pay to use the site, that’s 3.6 million in revenue. You could run Instagram on that and pay your employees quite well. (Since they got bought for a billion dollars, I think they were smart with how they did things.)

    The rest of that section I quoted above goes on to discuss that they can use children’s images in their advertising as well.

    Draconian as in excessively harsh or severe. They went from not claiming any rights on your photos and likeness to claiming all sorts of rights.

  3. A follow-up from Instagram. It sounds like if you make your photos private they won’t use them for anything. I need to see if you can tell it not to use your location ever and then I think it’d be reasonably private.

  4. Flickr’s still crap on Android – their app doesn’t work on tablets. The UI for website renders the sign-in captcha off screen (while, maybe that part is Yahoo).

  5. The new iPhone app is shockingly good. It’s nuts because it’s an order of magnitude better in every regard: better features, better UX, better everything.

  6. Is Instagram’s original TOS any worse than Facebooks? Can’t facebook use sell and use my photos without my consent? I am curious how many people are leaving Instagram but not facebook.

  7. This wording actually seems worse, since it suggests they can use your photographs on billboards and junk like that. I think with Facebook they can use your image within the site.

  8. We value your opinion.

  9. xkcd on Instagram.

    They’ve actually reverted their terms of service back to their 2010 version, apparently.

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