Instagram has backtracked on changes regarding its Terms of Service (ToS) that made it look like the photo sharing app will sell user-generated images. Co-founder Kevin Systrom has announced in a blog post that they are reverting to the original version of the ToS that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010.

An apologetic Systrom wrote on the blog that he felt they had failed to communicate their intentions regarding the ToS clearly. He wrote that he understood that the main concern of the users were what Instagram’s possible advertising products could look like and how they would work.

Going forward, rather than obtain permission from you to introduce possible advertising products we have not yet developed, we are going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work,” Systrom wrote, announcing that Instagram was reverting back to the ToS in use ever since the service started in 2010.

New camera and Willow filter

Your photos belong to you

Systrom emphasised yet again on the fact that Instagram has never intended to sell user-generated images. The updated ToS and privacy policy will go into effect on January 19, he said.

The new ToS that Instagram was proposing to bring into play on January 16 had users up in arms regarding their privacy. The language in the document made it look like Instagram would sell user generated images or use them in advertisements, leading many of them to shut their accounts owing to the widespread panic.

Systrom 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. He also emphasised that if a user’s account was private, only other users he approved of would be able to see the images.

Ever since Facebook bought over Instagram earlier this year, it was evident that the service was set to undergo major overhauls. Earlier in December, Carolyn Everson, VP, Global Marketing Solutions, Facebook, said that Facebook was looking out to monetise Instagram services. Instagram too came up with updated ToS and Privacy Policies that included vaguely ideas about advertisements.

Giving an example of how Instagram expected 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.

This was where users including nature magazine National Geographic drew the line, refusing to post on the photo sharing service anymore. NatGeo put up an image on its official Instagram account that read, “We are very concerned with the direction of the proposed new terms service and if they remain as presented we may close our account.

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