UPDATE: In response to public concents, Instagram has released a statement clearing up confusion about their new policy. Read the statement here.
On January 16th, the social media photo-sharing site Instagram could get a lot less fun. Instagram has long been successful amongst users (there are over 30 million accounts and 1 billion photographs have been uploaded thus far), due to its ability to capture, enhance and share images on the Internet.
Through the use of an app, a smartphone’s camera and Instagram’s many different image filters, users have been able to take photos that are as aesthetically pleasing as those taken with expensive, professional cameras. But a recent announcement made by the company could cause people not to be so fast with the shutter finger. On January 16th, 2013, Instragram’s parent company, Facebook, will legally be allowed to license all public Instagram photos to companies and other organizations. That’s right, Facebook will be able to sell your photos to companies, which in turn can use them for marketing and advertising purposes, without providing you with any monetary compensation.
In practice, this simply turns Instagram into the world’s largest compilation of stock photographs. But wait, the people in the images may not want to be considered stock, and the users which took the pictures probably feel some sort of ownership over the content and don’t want them being sold without their permission and without getting anything out of it. For now, it looks like if you don’t like Instagram’s policy, you need to disable your account, as there is no opt-out option. As one might expect, users are not happy.
How is the company responding to the intense public criticism of its new rules and regulations? Are you fine with your images being used without your permission? Is that simply the new normal given today’s technological landscape? How awkward is it going to be when a company uses one of your Instagram photos to advertise to you on Facebook?
Declan McCullagh, Chief Political Correspondent for CNET - tech news website