Facebook, Instagram and Profiting from Online Privacy Policy

UPDATE – So, I made a big fuss this morning (and I did delete my Instagram account), and the co-founder replied to all of the negative reactions in a blog titled “Thank you, and we’re listening“.  Well, I read it and while it sounds nice, my MBA and Business Law professors would say, “Not so fast.”

1. They (Facebook & Instagram) already have your content, and while they don’t have plans to use if for advertising, they can change that in the future.
2. Facebook has used the “seek forgiveness later” approach in the past.
3. There are plenty of other photo editing apps out there for your phone.

I loved Instagram – until this morning.  

Last Instagram PhotoWhat a great little tool Instagram was, bring social media and photo sharing together in a cool little package. Millions of users quickly discovered that by adding simple photo effects to their horrible photos, they too could make art.

Facebook thought it was such great tool, they up and bought the little company for about a billion dollars. And now that Facebook is publically traded and Instagram is owned by Facebook, it wasn’t much of a shock, but a huge disappointment when I read that my photos on Instagram can now be sold (without my compensation or control).  But it must be pointed out –  it is with my consent, because I agreed to the terms of service and the privacy policy.

Why did Facebook do this?

Well Facebook stockholders need to see a return on their investment.  Currently the stock has been surging since November, up about 22%, (Facebook Stock), and by selling Instagram photos as “Stock Photos”, Facebook has opened up a new revenue stream.

If this seems deceptive, I would agree; because Facebook and Instagram have built huge followings and usership by providing a great services and innovative platforms.  However, when the rules to the game (privacy policy and terms of service) change without user having a say or recourse, it is deceptive.  Facebook is playing an innovative marketing game, which, coming from a marketing person is very deceptive.

Two issues you need to consider:

  • Your photos can be sold, without your permission or without receiving payment,
  • Facebook has an irrevocable right to sell images in perpetuity.

CNet broke the news on Dec. 17th, in a story “Instagram says it now has the right to sell your photos”.  CNet dove into the language and pointed out two major issues with Facebook’s changes

One section deletes the current phrase, “limited license” and, by inserting the words “transferable” and “sub-licensable,” allows Facebook to license users’ photos to any other organization.

A second section allows Facebook to charge money. It says that “a business or other entity may pay us to display your… photos… in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.” That language does not exist in the current terms of use. – CNET

If you would like to read all of Instagram’s privacy policy for yourself, here it is:http://instagram.com/about/legal/privacy/updated/.

The image at the top right is my last Instagram photo, it was a picture of Ron Burgess’ book I took yesterday,and we want to hold and control its copyright. So because my family, my business, and my photos are mine, I want control of how they are used and/or sold…. So, I’m going to be deleting my Instagram account and everyone should be concerned and take action by January 16, 2013 to opt out of the new terms.

Instructions on deleting your account.  Login at “Instagram.com”, click on “Edit Profile”, and at the bottom right is “I’d like to delete my account”.  You can tell them why, “Privacy Concerns”, and maybe they will get the message that you, and I don’t like it.

Deleting My Instagram Account