Why You Should Read Instagram’s Updated Privacy Policy and Terms of Use

instagram privacy policy terms of use

Instagram unveiled an updated version of their Privacy Policy and Terms of Use late Monday evening, making significant changes to the way the photo-sharing app shares your information and licenses your photo content.


While we already had a hunch that advertising was headed to Instagram, the updated privacy policy and terms of use not only confirms our thoughts but also indicates that publicly-shared User Content can be used without compensation and that user information will be shared with Instagram's parent company, Facebook. These important changes can be found under the “Sharing of your Information” section. This section says,


We may share User Content and your information (including but not limited to, information from cookies, log files, device identifiers, location data, and usage data) with businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that Instagram is part of, or that become part of that group (“Affiliates”). Affiliates may use this information to help provide, understand, and improve the Service (including by providing analytics) and Affiliates' own services (including by providing you with better and more relevant experiences). But these Affiliates will honor the choices you make about who can see your photos…

Subject to your profile and privacy settings, any User Content that you make public is searchable by other Users and subject to use under our Instagram API. The use of the Instagram API is subject to the API Terms of Use which incorporates the terms of this Privacy Policy.


Why did Instagram's Privacy Policy need to be changed? The platform states,

We knew that by teaming up with Facebook, we could build a better Instagram for you. Since then, we've been collaborating with Facebook's team on ways to do just that. As part of our new collaboration, we've learned that by being able to share insights and information with each other, we can build better experiences for our users.


Amidst all this legal jargon, what can you, the fashion blogger, expect? How will this change your Instagram usage?


First of all, get ready for ads. We knew they were coming and this privacy policy confirms that. These ads will be specifically targeted to each user and while we aren't sure how they will fit in the platform's interface, we anticipate that they will be appearing somewhere in our feed or account.


Second and more important, by uploading your photos to Instagram, you are allowing your uploaded photos to be used without compensation. Imagine your Instagram of you and your friends on a billboard. Scary, right? Sadly, this can happen. The new Terms of Use state, “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.”  The CNET writes,

Facebook claims the perpetual right to license all public Instagram photos to companies or any other organization, including for advertising purposes, which would effectively transform the Web site into the world's largest stock photo agency.


Overall, you can now predict that Facebook is aiming to become a bigger network with a wider reach, infiltrating more and more aspects of your life. More information about you and your behavior on these Facebook-owned platforms will be shared amongst advertising partners and investors. The Next Web says,

Now that this bridge is starting to be built from the other side, there is clear evidence now, perhaps more than ever before, that Facebook is moving towards a single cohesive network similar to Google.


Be sure to read through the updated Privacy Policy and Terms of Use over at Instagram. These changes don't come into effect until January 16, 2013 so you have time to decide how you feel about this new change and your content. If you don't like these changes, you must delete your account by January 16th. By keeping your account, you are giving consent to these changes. What do you think about Instagram's new privacy policy? Do you want to delete your account? Or be more selective about the content you share on the photo-sharing app?


UPDATE: Instagram's co-founder Kevin Systrom released a statement last night in response to the buzz around their updated Privacy Policy. He says,


Since making these changes, we’ve heard loud and clear that many users are confused and upset about what the changes mean… From the start, Instagram was created to become a business. Advertising is one of many ways that Instagram can become a self-sustaining business, but not the only one. Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead 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. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear… Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. Nothing about this has changed. We respect that there are creative artists and hobbyists alike that pour their heart into creating beautiful photos, and we respect that your photos are your photos. Period.


He ended his blog post by assuring users that Instagram will continue to work to preserve its community.

One of the main reasons these documents don’t take effect immediately, but instead 30 days from now, is that we wanted to make sure you had an opportunity to raise any concerns. You’ve done that and are doing that, and that will help us provide the clarity you deserve.

Read the entire statement over at Instagram
Photo credit: @AstroWifey


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40 Responses

  1. Alissa

    I’m just not sure what to do about this. As a fashion blogger who uses Instagram/Facebook daily – I’m not sure I can afford to NOT use the platforms as a way to get my content out there. However, I am very mad about Instagram’s new Terms of Service. My pictures are mine – and should not be shared especially without proper credit.

    • Amanda Boyce

      There are other apps that can be used – Flickr just released a really great mobile app. Perhaps that is one fashion bloggers can flock to?

    • Jen at Jen Darling

      I totally agree. I’m not a fan of the changes, but is it worth not being on Instagram at all? I’m not at the point where it’s a make or break for my blog yet, but what is the alternative?

      I’d be interested if anyone uses something similar to Instagram?

      • Amanda Boyce

        Flickr! It has always been a community that protects a photographer’s rights. Their mobile app just got updated too.

  2. snowblackblog

    I saw this today on my friend’s Instagram update. This is beyond ridiculous. So while we are posting up notices on Facebook to say no to the use of our images, at the same time they buy Instagram and pull the same trick. For some of my friends who aren’t bloggers, it doesn’t matter, but for those of us who blog, share photos with our readers PUBLICLY this then may as well be a nice way for them to get around copyright infringement. God forbid I post a picture on holiday by the beach, and the next thing you know some hotel or airline who is an affiliate is using it to advertise a vacation there !

    But then again, I guess they know some people are addicted to social media so they have no need to worry about some of us “going on social media strike” . SMH

    • Amanda Boyce

      I think it will be interesting to see how Instagram implements this new TOU. It may not be as bad as it seems, but in the meantime, just use discretion about the photos you share.

  3. Milena

    I’d say don’t panic and read the Terms of Use carefully- I didn’t see a section where it says an advertiser may pay to display your photos but I read the following instead:

    ”By using our Service you understand and agree that we are providing a platform for you to post content, including photos, comments and other materials (“User Content”), to the Service and to share User Content publicly. This means that other Users may search for, see, use, or share any of your User Content that you make publicly available through the Service, consistent with the terms and conditions of this Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use (which can be found at http://instagram.com/legal/terms).”

    ”Instagram does NOT claim ANY ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, applications, or any other materials (collectively, “Content”) that you post on or through the Instagram Services. ”

    • Amanda Boyce

      Good point – rights wasn’t the right word to use. However, your photos can be used (credited to you) without compensation. in the terms of use, it states, “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.”

      • Milena

        Hey Amanda, I can’t find the section where it says this…
        In Section3 Sharing your information there is no mention of it. Can you tell me where exactly you read it?

      • Daiane

        In Terms of Use->Rights->second point, it says: “To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, 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.”

  4. Allison

    I’m really torn on whether to delete my account. I love Instagram and how I use it to connect with other bloggers and brands that I love, but I also don’t want them using my images. On the other hand, what are the chances that they will actually use one of my photos?

    What are other people’s thoughts? Are you going to keep your account?

  5. Ari @ Creatively Sassy

    what are fashion bloggers to do now?? Would watermarking your images before putting them on instagram make any difference?

    • Sistah Hollywood

      About a month or so ago I began signing *like an artist would of sorts* EVERY set or style image I put together. Although anyone with graphic editing skills can remove it *rolls eyes*, I would think companies wouldn’t want to go through the hassle of trying to remove watermarks or signatures.

      I was against watermarks because it looks so hideous stamped across one’s style photos or “outfit of the day” pics; but what choice do we have?

      This is SUPER annoying and quite frankly disrespectful to the amount of work and time we put into publishing.


  6. Duarte

    I was not happy with the new policies, but I’m not quitting Instagram either. I use an Android phone, and I wait YEARS to have it, and even had to download a new software to use it. It’s definitely one of my favorite platforms right now. The thing, probably, I won’t post anymore photos of myself (and there are only a few where you can see my face) or my friends, so at least people will be protected from that billboard case. As for the other pictures, well I don’t really care if anyone uses a picture of my cat or one of my ootd posts – that’s what everyone does when searching images on google. Of course it would suck to have people making money out of it, but there’s more to life than that.

  7. Mollie Parks

    I am disappointed that Facebook/Instagram would encroach on its user’s
    rights. I think it goes to show that Facebook’s buyout of Instsgram was a terrible decision and Zuckerberg should have consulted his board before going through with the buyout. However, the IG photos are so low res that I don’t see how they would use them for advertising. Still, I don’t agree with this poor decision. Can’t decide if I’ll delete my Instagram or not.

  8. FashionEdible

    Is Facebook set up the same way? Can they use your photos for compensation from other companies?

  9. maravilla

    i’m not a fashion blogger, more a blog follower/supporter, but working on my own blog for music & marketing purposes. the same rings true for me on what i use to market my clients or to gain clients & followers.

    the terms say if your account is public then they can share these photos freely. but if your account is private, what are the terms here?

    are photos going to be more easily found under hash tags?

    has anyone joined cinemagram?

  10. Shirley Barrett

    What about those of us who use IG as a part of a larger brand identity? Since a lot of new bloggers don’t copyright their material, what can we do to protect our brand?

  11. Casie

    I agree with most others in that im feeling pretty torn. On one hand we’ve all established an audience on these platforms but to have my pics out there without credit (ESPECIALLY since I sometimes instagram a profesh photo Ive taken that was paid for by a client), makes me feel super uneasy. As it is Im bummed that Facebook as reduced the presence of Facebook Pages, significantly reducing my reach on the Facebook platform alone unless I pay up (And PS. I did a “sponsored post” test and the views were not increase at all–when I complained to Facebook, I never heard from them sooooo….)

    Definitely a bummer!

  12. PJ Gach

    When Instagram first came out, I was a bit leery of it. Since I have an android, not an iPhone, I didn’t use it. Now I’m glad. The idea that they’re (more or less) stealing your work for ads is so not right on many levels.
    If they don’t want to lose users, they should recompense users for photos they use.


  13. annie

    Did nobody read the instagram blog? They said they never intend to sell your photos (and anyway, i’m not sure why a company would buy a crappy, square photo of your cat taken on a mobile, when they could buy one off a professional photographer to put on a billboard) and that the advertising will come in the form of a ‘feature’ much like tumblr’s featured accounts.

  14. Hannah

    I have to say – if people had read the T&Cs before signing up on the old ones then there were similar ‘rights’ available to Instagram.

    I get frustrated that people feel like FB & IG are trying to screw them when we use their services for free every day. Nothing is free. I felt like the language a little vague and I am happy they’ll be updating it.

    As for advertising: of course they need to monetise it. All these people don’t just work hard on IG for our entertainment. I think it is insane that we all work so hard to get our blogs making money but want to deny IG the same right. it’s beyond comprehension to me.

  15. rebecca

    Isn’t it a bit irresponsible to be posting this today, even with the update at the very end, after instagram has already addressed these concerns and explained them? The billboard example would never happen under the new terms. I think this article should have been rewritten before it was posted today, since you posted it we’ll after instagram cleared this up. Don’t spread / perpetuate undue panic.

  16. Izabela

    One question, I read new terms and it clearly says that “unless your content is made private” this you can do in your settings, do I understand that this is enough to prevent using my photos by the third party companies?

  17. Stacie

    This saddens me to hear this. I enjoy looking at everyone’s photos, but would never dream of taking them and using them as my own nor would I think I would be victim of such an act. I suppose using the label maker in the picframe app and putting my website across all of my photos may help?

  18. Taylah

    The part that bothers me is the “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.” section. I think it is very unfair that Instagram would take money for OUR content and creations, without any compensation to us. However, I am not going to stop posting pictures of myself in the hopes I don’t end up on some poster or sign. I don’t think a company would pay to have my small, low-res, questionable quality, taken-on-an-iphone, picture on their billboard. I think the images, if sold, would be used maybe more in internet advertising? As as annoying as it is to be used without compensation, I know that by posting pictures to my blog, I must be aware that they can turn up anywhere on the internet without my knowledge. I guess even my blog photos (which are of a much higher quality than my insta shots) could be saved and used in an advertisement without my knowledge, even though it would be stealing. It’s the same kind of thing, though Instagram has created this ‘terms’ business so they can make money legally, and it sucks.

  19. Diwata Luna

    There was confusion over the legalese, that’s true. And in some ways, the new terms were misinterpreted. BUT BUT BUT. In merely saying that Instagram — and Facebook — are businesses, it means money will be earned at the expense of some things. Like photo licensing. If you notice on FB, you get sponsored ads that actually say which of your friends liked the ads. That’s unpaid marketing and recommendation in a way.