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Instagram in privacy row

Dec. 18: Instagram, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing site, has updated its terms and conditions to claim ownership of all photograph rights and now also says it does not have to identify adverts.

Newly announced changes to Instagram’s terms and conditions give the Facebook-owned photo-sharing site “perpetual” rights to all images uploaded, and allow Instagram to use them for commercial purposes without identification. “You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such,” the new terms say.

That may let advertisers use teenagers’ photos for marketing, raising privacy and security concerns, Jeffrey Chester, executive director for the Center for Digital Democracy, told Bloomberg.

Facebook itself was sued by users angry that their images had been used as part of “sponsored stories”, and settled the case in June by making a $10m donation to charity. At the time, Facebook claimed that any user who clicked “like” on a brand was effectively giving their consent to be used in commercial content.

Instagram’s new policies, which now apply to users as young as 13, enable the site to use members’ names, text, photos and other content with marketing messages, the company said on its site. The new terms of use, which take effect next month, could be exploitative, Chester said.

Instagram itself claims the January 16 changes do not represent substantial changes. They bring the site’s terms largely in line with those of its parent company. Such legal language is also commonplace among the terms and conditions of websites, but Instagram’s proposals do appear to go further than its competitors.

“It’s asking people to agree to unspecified future commercial use of their photos,” Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Cnet.

The new terms change the existing “limited license” that Instagram users granted the site to “transferable” and “sub-licensable”, and permit the sale of rights to companies for marketing purposes.

Google’s terms for its Picasa and Google+ sites are less strict. Facebook is looking for ways to increase revenue across its services. Instagram, popular with teens and young adults, reached more than 100 million users, Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in September.

Facebook “sees teens as a digital goldmine”, said Chester, whose group is focused on privacy issues.

 
 
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