Instagram walks back its controversial TOS update; reverts to old TOS

Well hey now. From the Instagram blog:

Earlier this week, we introduced a set of updates to our privacy policy and terms of service to help our users better understand our service. In the days since, it became clear that we failed to fulfill what I consider one of our most important responsibilities – to communicate our intentions clearly. I am sorry for that, and I am focused on making it right.

The concerns we heard about from you the most focused on advertising, and what our changes might mean for you and your photos. There was confusion and real concern about what our possible advertising products could look like and how they would work.

Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010. You can see the updated terms here.

As Dave Pell put it: "Translation: Fuck it, we're cool with just the billion."

Read the full statement here. I think that's pretty great news. I really enjoy using instagram, and my colleagues and I have had a lot of fun with our new Boing Boing instagram feed—I feel better about remaining a user now. But I don't know. Fool me once...

All that said, the new Flickr mobile app is pretty sweet. Personally, I think I'll straddle both for a while. And you?



    1. Facebook has a pretty thorough understanding of outrage fatigue, and its practical applications in achieving acquiescence to their objectives through a series of two-steps-forward-one-step-back moves. The only real question is how many iterations will be required to get from here to point B…

      1. Instagram is just switching from the cobra strike to the python squeeze: users’ photos will be swallowed up as Instagram property one way or the other.

  1. Yeah…definitely don’t feel comfortable with them now. I think I may use it sparingly with text over the photos to drive people to my Flickr feed.

  2. Yeah. See the differences between the two versions of section 3, “Sharing Of Your Information”. Not a lot of walking back there. I’ll pass on this.

  3. Claiming that they reverted to old TOS is pretty misleading. There are no Arbitration clause and class-action waivers in the old TOS like there are in the new. The user still loses with these updates.

  4. Damage done. Already many people (rightly or wrongly) have left, so there are fewer connections to keep other users around. Additionally, those who have stayed are far less likely to trust the company (again, rightly or wrongly), and as a result they are more likely to leave after the next misstep.

    Whatever the long term plan is for Facebook and Instagram, it’s foolish of them not to see that keeping the users happy as a primary goal. If they want to see the user as a product to be sold to advertisers, they want to keep those users looking and using.

    Instead of taking steps to make the users feel valued, the Facebook and Instagram team have taken steps that appear (real or not) to show a lack of respect for the work of users. This is made all the worse given the rapid rise of spam and fake user accounts that degrades the quality of the service.

    How many users can Instagram loose before they loose that critical mass of users that keep people around?

    If they aren’t careful, they will find out.

  5. They pissed me off twice. I was just going to delete all my photos as I was sort of concerned about them being used without my consent. But this was more the principal of the thing than real concern about losing money on my photography.

    But then there was no bulk delete, you couldn’t delete from the web browser (only on the phone? Or they were hiding this) and several attempts to delete individual photos on the phone were buggy and refused so I threw my hands up and said screw this I don’t really need it anyway. Chucked the account. Not looking back.

    Been a Flickr user since 2005. Like the new app. I like Flickr to the point where I suffered through the old app just fine.

    And lately I’ve just generally been more keen on actually paying a developer to make me software (e.g. Instapaper vs. pocket) than expect it for free.

  6. The basic problem Instragram had was not understanding the larger issues involved, for instance ASMP summarizes that most succinctly in their press release today:

    “The terms provide Instagram with a perpetual right to sell users’ content without payment or notification, and requires the content owner to represent and warrant to Instagram that Instagram’s use will not violate any third party rights, including publicity and privacy rights.”

    Organizations Representing Visual Artists Protest Instagram Changes

    So best of luck with the issues that last bit pointed out.

  7. If you don’t the server, you have no say as to what they do with the data you share with it.
    media goblin hosted by a friend if preferential to this social networking gimmick.

  8. Sorry, but this title is absolutely misleading! They may have reverted the advertising section of their ToS to the old version but by no means their complete ToS and especially not the rights section!!!!!!

  9. This is a victory for Instagram, if we assume they’re an evil organisation. The current terms offer the users LESS rights than the updated ones. If you think otherwise, you’ve been duped by internet agitators who have lied to you.

      1.  Just to be clear, I don’t think Instagram is an “evil” organisation. On the contrary, they seem to be pretty much as they come across. Fact is though that no reasonable person would reach the conclusions that have been hysterically spouted all week based on the source evidence (i.e. the new ToS and the old ToS) alone, without some nice people on the internet to summarise it into an easy to get angry about (but devoid of factual accuracy) form.

        If believing it’s normal for a mob to show this level of stupidity without assistance constitutes a *normal world view*, then I guess you’re probably right in that regard. I optimistically prefer to think that this started as a joke, and everybody ended up falling for it, rather than everybody researching it themselves, forming erroneous conclusions, and getting very very angry about it.

  10. I prefer to pay for software and get what I pay for instead of getting something for free and them monetizing my behavior and personal info so I’m sticking with Flickr and their decidedly non-square photos. The new app makes it a LOT easier to go back home. 

  11. I’m sure this will continue to fall on deaf ears, but this story has been completely misreported.  From what I can tell, Instagram made a relatively  innocuous change to their terms of use to allow for better integration with Facebook, and once again the entire Internet freaks out without understanding what they are commenting on.  See

    1.  Well, it’s not like that hasn’t happened before, so that means they should have been more careful, and explained things better.

  12. Since the Flickr App update I have already seen a big rise in engagement on Flickr. I always preferred it but was limited in my interaction because the app sucked so hard. I am going to close my IG account and go back to Flickr full time.

  13. I’m an Instagram user, and its probably my favorite “social app”, by which I mean I can follow friends, they can follow me, we can employ hashtags, their updates are pushed to me, etc. Does the new Flickr service do that? (I don’t know if it does, I’m honestly asking.) Because that’s the core component of Instagram, all the other stuff (photo albums, goofy camera effects, even sharable albums) is almost incidental.

    And Flickr is owned by, of all companies, Yahoo. I trust Yahoo much less than Facebook for lots of reasons, the primary one being that they’re so mind bogglingly incompetent. From where I sit it looks like they’ve let Flickr stagnate pretty much since they bought it, which is a crime worse than monetization in my opinion. And furthermore, what’s the over/under on Yahoo still being in business in 2 years? I can’t imagine them taking something as successful as Flickr with them, but it wouldn’t be the stupidest thing Yahoo has ever done.

  14. I have loved Instagram and have used it as my primary social-media-sharing app for well over a year.  I have a hate/love relationship with facebook, and have gotten more and more annoyed at the rights creep and increasing ad presence on fb, as well as the loops and hurdles that I have to jump through on the settings pages to manage my profile.  This last IG ToS was a last straw for me, and I am yanking everything personal off of Instagram and facebook.  I really like the community I have found on Instagram, and will miss it, but I am liking the flickr app and am hopeful to rebuild a similar community over there.  To answer your question Xeni, I think that I too will straddle both Instagram and flickr, with a lot more lean towards flickr for personal stuff(family pics, artsy pics, and such like). 

  15. I am done with Instagram, too bad I liked it. But you can’t do that to folks i.e. lets see if we can take advantage of them without them knowing. But like with any of these things, I now have to get my community at Instagram to move with me to Flickr. Tall order.

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