Truth is, Instagram always had the ability to use your pics, and plenty of companies actually have the same terms in place. The only difference is, users aren’t always aware of this. But once the news gets plastered all over the interwebs — as articles in The New York Times tend to do — people get up in arms. And now Instagram’s scrambling to backtrack, even pledging to rewrite the policy to make its intentions clearer.
The company might do well to clarify that those pesky advertisers will only place your images in front of people who already follow you. Or that the whole reason for this is simply to avoid the in-app banner ads that no one likes anyway, so that promos (and your pics) integrate in a connected user’s stream — just like any of your other images that would pop up there. Unfortunately, the new terms used language that was just vague enough to cover a myriad of scenarios, which unnerved a jaded userbase already wary of sneaky company tactics.
For many users, the damage is done. So if you’re an Instagram user wondering about how to pull your images off the service — at least until the dust settles and the terms have been made crystal clear — you may want to heed Wired‘s advice and use Instaport, a service that bills itself as “a simple way to export all your Instagram photos to other social services or your local hard drive.” Just sign in with your Instagram login, and let the service pull those pics to a .zip file. (A port to Facebook, Flickr, and RSS is in the works.)
Once you’ve got those pics stashed, you can close your Instagram account at will. But note, once you delete your account, it’s gone — restoring it isn’t possible. Sure, you can start another one, but you won’t be able to use the same username or regain your following or photos.
Whether you keep Instagram or not, it’s a good idea to store those images anyway, even if it’s just for safekeeping. You can do it on an ongoing basis using sites like ifttt.com. Once you sign up for a free account, you can grab a pre-made “recipe” to download any new images from Instagram to Dropbox, Facebook, Evernote, Flickr, Google Drive and more. (Side note: It’s actually a pretty cool service for automating many different types of things.)
We want to hear from you: Are you backing off Instagram now, in light of recent events, or will you stick with the filter-happy photo service? Let us know in the comments.