Facebook-owned Instagram recently updated the terms of service (ToS) for its users, and they’re pretty wild. The social network’s new powers run the gamut from being able to provide your information to advertisers to using the photos that you upload in ads. Insanity! The New York Times recently covered all of the bizarre features you should know about, and here are a few highlights.
First, Instagram is capable of learning what you like depending on what you upload, and from where. So if you like Oreo cookies and shopping at Walmart because you pinned your photo there, then it knows that. That’s big money for Facebook, too, which can now sell that type of information to its advertisers. Here’s where it gets really scary, though: the ToS specifically says that, by using Instagram, you’re agreeing to terms that allow “a business or other entity [to] pay us directly 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.”
I may be crazy, but that sounds like Instagram basically has the right to take a photo of you enjoying a McDonald’s cheeseburger and using it in a McDonald’s ad. If you upload a photo of crazy Aunt Jane sharing that same cheeseburger, she might appear in the ad too, even if she doesn’t use Instagram. Worse, this rule applies to anyone who uses Instagram, including people under the age of 13.
As The New York Times notes, you can’t opt out of the new ToS. The only way to avoid having any of your photos or personal information shared with advertisers, Facebook and other partners is to stop using it.
Instagram, for its part, said “nothing has changed about your photos’ ownership or who can see them,” and that it “helps Instagram function more easily as part of Facebook by being able to share info between the two groups.” The social network also said it allows it to “fight spam more effectively, detect system and reliability problems more quickly, and build better features for everyone by understanding how Instagram is used.” Ultimately, Instagram says the new ToS is a service to “protect” its users.
Really? It seems like it’s actually a way to monetize the platform.