Instagram has apologised to its users about the ‘confusion’ caused with regard to the language in its legal terms that would have allowed the photo sharing website to sell user’s photos or use them in an advertisement.

Come January 16, 2013, a new Instagram Privacy Policy and Terms of Use Agreement will come into force. When Instagram originally released clauses about the new legal agreement, it caused a massive outcry as the language in the document made it look like Instagram will have the rights to sell user-generated images and/or use them in advertisements.

Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram promptly released a blog post to clear the air, saying that Instagram had no intentions of selling user-generated content or to allow photos to be used in advertisements. “To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear,” Systrom said in the blog.


Your photos belong to you, says Instagram

Asserting that Instagram does not own any photos submitted by users, Systrom wrote,”Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. 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.”

Talking about privacy issues, Systrom continued that nothing about image privacy will change, come January. If you have set your profile to private, only users you approve of will be able to see your images.

Instagram is about to embrace advertising and that has been a cause of concern amongst a lot of its users. Systrom said in the blog that Instagram is a business that is dependent on revenue; advertising is one way of generating revenue but not the only way. “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 were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation.”

Giving an example of how Instagram expects the monetisation of the site to work, Systrom explained that if a business wanted to gain more followers, in order to help make a more relevant and useful promotion, it would be helpful to see which of the people you follow also follow this business. He added that your profile image might show up if you’re following the business. This feature is quite like what parent company Facebook has.

Instagram seems to be in the news for all the wrong reasons this past couple of weeks. After severing card support to Twitter, the raging battle between the two turned murkier with revelations that Twitter had initially bid $525 million to purchase Instagram before eventual winners of the deal Facebook threw their hat into the ring.

With Facebook asserting their authority more and more over Instagram, users seem to be on their guard regarding their privacy issues, something that has always remained Facebook’s Achilles’ Heel.

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