I'm sure you've all heard--Instagram announced that it will be changing it's Terms of Service yesterday in preparation to start monetizing this popular and FREE service.
And I don't care.
Much like the reaction over Pinterest's change to their ToS and the subsequent fallout in March, I find the whole thing blown out of proportion. And I blame Twitter for it. We have all become way too reliant on the people we follow on Twitter for news, myself included. We saw how quickly the rumors and lies spread regarding the Newtown shooting. People were retweeting everyone and anyone without confirming a single thing. Same goes for this Instagram madness. I don't know who started it--CNET maybe?--but somehow a lot of misinformation has spread across the internet like wildfire.
But how many of these pissed off Instagrammers had actually read the Instagram ToS when they joined? Because guess what--their current ToS already gives Instagram the same "rights" that everyone seems to be outraged over all of the sudden.
"By displaying or publishing ("posting") any Content on or through the Instagram Services, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content, including without limitation distributing part or all of the Site in any media formats through any media channels, except Content not shared publicly ("private") will not be distributed outside the Instagram Services."
They have to have license to use and copy your photos, comments, etc. for the platform to even exist. And guess what? If you have an Instagram account, you unflinchingly agreed to it when you joined. It's not their fault if most of it's users didn't read the Terms and are only pissed now because some yahoo is finally pointing it out. And let's be honest--these same people probably saw the ToS change notice and didn't even click to see what was different.
What's more is that if you take the time to read the ToS of any website you've signed up on, they probably have similar or even the exact same verbiage. Simply by using a service, uploading your content to their platform, gives the company certain rights to your content. It's a pretty common practice. I'll be the first to say that I don't care much for legalese. In fact, my eyes tend to glaze over when trying to read it. But I know that checking that little "I Agree" box means I'm agreeing to their contract and there is no way I'm going to sign a legal agreement without at least skimming the content to get the general idea.
Let's get smart about the Internet, people. Creating an account on a site always signs away a certain amount of your legal rights; any good company is going to try to cover their butts legally. Admit it, so would you. Instagram is no different. Furthermore, you should always use caution and a bit of a filter when posting on the Internet. I'm at least thankful that this craziness has made people start to think twice about what they post. I'm so sick of seeing people posting pictures of themselves doing illegal things--do you really think "private" means your photos won't be seen by unintended parties?
And you all liked this innovative, FREE service a week ago (when it's rights to use your photos was pretty much the same) so let's let them keep this a free service and trust that they will find innovative ways to make money while keeping the heart of what makes Instagram awesome intact. I also want to commend them for how they handled this situation. I imagine it can't have been easy to have their once-loving community turn on them overnight and their reaction was timely and graceful.
To sum up my thoughts:
- Terms of Service agreements are essentially legal contracts
- Know what you're agreeing to when clicking that checkbox
- Check facts before believing what you hear on Twitter**
- Privacy doesn't mean what most people think it means
- I still love Instagram
I'll hop of my social media soap box now. I just care about you all and want everyone to be smarter about the Internet. Because when used right, the world wide web, is a beautiful thing
**Edited to add