Up until recently, I was a pretty solid fan of the Instagram service. I loved how it helped people to connect to one another through their photographs, whether those photographs had been artistically altered through filters or not. I really enjoyed how my friends could easily see the photos I took and give me a big thumbs up, so to speak, when they saw the photos they liked. All of this changed on Monday, December 17th, when Instagram suddenly announced that they were changing their terms of service — and it didn’t look like it was going to be for the better.

In short, the changes to Instagram that were announced to be made as of the 16th of January were that the service was becoming in a way a sort of stock photograph service — with you as their stock provider! Every single photograph taken after the service change date which is set as public is eligible for Instagram to sell to any company for use in advertisement. Your compensation for this? Rainbows, smiles, and a lot of zero dollar bills! By this I mean you get nothing! Your hard work and great skills in taking photographs earns money for Instagram!

By Tuesday I had read all about these proposed changes and I decided that between that and the proposal that all photographs that are taken after January of accounts that are later deleted being STILL eligible for sale, I took immediate action. I searched for the fastest way to delete my account and did it — there is no more Instagram account under my name.

A little later, Instagram responded — this was sometime in the evening on Tuesday. They had a change of tune and were suddenly saying that they absolutely would not be selling your photos to companies and that people were somehow misunderstanding the change to the terms of service and that they never intended to sell your photos. Let us look at the words in the proposed terms of service.

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.

Really? How can you understand that in any other way? In any case, the new NEW terms of service is promised to no longer have this paragraph in it, but for me it is too little and it is certainly too late. Instagram claims that they gave a month lead time before the change so that people could respond and they could make necessary changes. I don’t get anything from that statement other than disingenuity. If they really had wanted to know how people felt about the Terms of Service, they would have posted them and written that they were PROPOSED terms of service, not that they were the terms of service that WOULD go into effect.

If this is how we can expect to be treated by Instagram, I suggest that you join me and outright delete your accounts. There are many photograph sharing services, some of which charge a yearly or monthly fee — but you can imagine that if you are paying up front, the services won’t try to find ways to make money off of your photographs in other devious ways.


  1. Now that they’ve changed their terms of service because of public pressure — do you feel like you want to go back to them again? If not, where will you go now instead of Instagram?

    1. As I mentioned above, the fact that they are implying that people misunderstood a very clearly put paragraph makes me not have any faith in them whatsoever. I have a Flickr account that I need to reup in terms of Pro status — which lets me have unlimited storage and no concern that they will sell my pictures ever!

  2. I can’t decide. I think Instagram should be able to make money. You say we get “nothing”, but we’ve actually been “getting” Instagram “for free”.

    I do agree they handled the whole thing VERY POORLY. Opt-in and it’s free. Opt-out and it’s X dollars per/month/year/day/second… whatever.

    I just can’t believe the “brains” at Instagram thought this would be a good idea, but I really smell the stink of Facebook all over this.

    1. Naturally, they do have to make money. As you mentioned, it should have definitely been an opt-in thing. I would have paid if it meant my photos were definitely secure!

Comments are closed.