The Big Fuss Over Instagram’s New Privacy Policy

In the past few days the internet and social media have blown up with criticism of Instagram’s privacy policy revisions. The questionable paragraph:

You agree that a business or other entity may pay us 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.

Understandable that the Instagram universe was up in arms, as this reads like the service will sell photos to businesses for advertising.

Users were so angered and upset that some even fled the service, retreating to Yahoo’s new Flickr app and Instagram competitor Starmatic, which saw more photos uploaded in one day than the whole three months of its existence. (Forbes.) National Geographic posted an image (below) announcing their disappointment.

National Geographics response

In response, Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram, posted a blog with the title “Thank you, and we’re listening.” An excerpt:

It was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. …

… Let’s say a business wanted to promote their account to gain more followers and Instagram was able to feature them in some way. In order to help make a more relevant and useful promotion, it would be helpful to see which of the people you follow also follow this business. In this way, some of the data you produce — like the actions you take (eg, following the account) and your profile photo — might show up if you are following this business.

This appears to be the same situation as Facebook ads, where businesses can pay to use your image – if you like their page – to obtain more likes. It seems like any time a social network changes its privacy policy, users react strongly and possibly leave. We think there’s nothing wrong with Instagram making money through advertising. What do you think?