The eagle-eyed internet has caught another dotcom company looking to cash in on its popularity (and recent integration with Facebook): starting on Jan 16, 2013, Instagram will be using a new Terms of Service agreement that allows it to use any content posted publicly to its service for marketing purposes.
“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.”
Also important: this not only applies to users who have an account with Instagram, but also anyone’s likeness that appears in a user’s publicly posted photos can also be used as such. Wait, we’re not done: if you are a minor and you’ve accepted the new TOU, you acknowledge that your parent/guardian is aware of the TOU and tacitly accepts the above.
What this means for you:
If you aren’t in the business of making money off your likeness, or your subjects aren’t celebrities, or if you don’t care that Instagram/Facebook might make some money off your own likeness, then carry on. However, if you happen to care how your children’s likeness may be exploited, you may want to ask any snap-happy smartphone users to not post pictures of your children onto Instagram, or at minimum, make them aware of these TOU changes. You may be surprised at how many people aren’t aware of Instagram’s control over the content they think they own, and doubly surprised at the number of people who don’t care that they may be providing profit for company’s that provide free services.