Share this Story

About This Instagram ToS Update.

If you’re a frequent user of Instagram, then you may have heard about the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy update that is penciled in for January, 2013. To sum it up, Instagram, purchased by Facebook some three months ago to the tune of $1 billion, is attempting to “borrow” your photos and sell them to third party companies. Your photos will then be used in a manner that directly relates to a company’s product. CNET’s Declan McCullagh had a great example of how this will work. 

That means that a hotel in Hawaii, for instance, could write a check to Facebook to license photos taken at its resort and use them on its Web site, in TV ads, in glossy brochures, and so on — without paying any money to the Instagram user who took the photo.

By updating their ToS and PP, Instabook will become the largest stock photo distributor in the world, without having to do any work at all. Now, informed people are reasonably a little upset/confused about why their pictures will all of a sudden have price tags on them. From some perspective, you can’t really argue with Facebook for trying to make money back on that large of an investment. What did you think their plans were when they threw down that much money? A simple integration between the two services? Let’s not be naive.

Now, as for me, I wasn’t making money from my hundreds of “Thor and Loki” pictures anyways, so have at them Facebook. For what seems like thousands of other people who are putting their photography portfolios online, this may seem much more damaging. If you fear for your work, host it on your own and delete your account. Users have until January 16 to delete their accounts and back out of the new terms before the company takes “control” over the photos.

Please, read the updated Terms of Service and Privacy Policy and get yourself informed.

Will you continue to use Instagram in the event of this updated policy or have you already deleted your account?


Cheers everyone who sent this in!


    If you post penis pictures or vag will they sell them to porn sites?

  • bravmo

    I uninstalled Instagram from my IPhone and my android devices….
    I will use another service…….

  • Alan Paone

    The new terms of service are BETTER for users than the old ones. Read them and stop being whiney little bitches.

  • Cedres


  • itsgonnalast

    Interesting that Facebook denied this rumor in 2009, only to make it come true in 2012 via Facebook-owned Instagram.

  • eckdawg5

    Pretty sure the before and after pics of my boxer’s neutering won’t be sold to anyone… I’m not worried

  • Does this apply to Facebook too?

  • I’m countering this by filling my account with pictures of my ass.

  • Yep

    Honestly, I could care less. If someone wants to sell the countless stupid pictures I have on my facebook and instagram, all essentially of my dog and other pointless stuff… then who cares? Do all of you have such personal photos on there that you are that concerned? If you really care that much, just don’t put up photos that you feel are so sensitive. Maybe If I was a professional photographer I would be pissed, but lets be honest, are any of you commenting here a professional photographer? Doubt it

  • MonkeyWork

    This is how all these ‘free’ services work. Don’t get indignant after the fact. Read TOS very carefully if it’s an issue for you (I have for years).

    Remember, if it’s free, you’re the product. Take it from them, or start paying for stuff.

    I’d also try going over your Android contract with Google, your Gmail, any cloud services, Microsoft, Apple, ask why Radio Shack asks for your personal info… If this is a story for you, you’ve been sleeping for a long time.

  • Xavier Davis

    They can’t sell. More of a promote post kinda like sponsored posts in Facebook.


  • Devin Dombrowski

    Already deleted my account and FB is probably next on the list.

  • Fattie McDoogles

    There should be some sort of per user compensation. Hotels that use my vacation pics should give me a discount or my room next stay. Same goes for bars and airlines. I don’t think most people should get cash or anything like that, but a discount or a comped service isn’t too much to ask for.

  • quiklives

    I think the problem for non-professional photogs isn’t about money, it’s that the legalese in the update seems to imply that even photos originally marked private are free game for this, as they stress *ANY* content is theirs to use.

  • Lucky Armpit

    Wow… CNet posted something useful….?

  • itsgonnalast

    lol it’s funny, I had an Instagram account for about a week. I signed up when it was released for Android, and deleted my account once Facebook bought it.

    With this news I’m glad Instagram never became a habit for me.

  • RocketPunch

    I think this less of an issue about being paid but more about no knowing how people who bought your pictures will use them.

    Imagine your perfectly healthy child became the poster boy for drug company that manufacture drugs for children with mental illness, or condom company that uses your teenage daughters bikini photos in a national TV commercial or some anti domestic abuse organization using your mother’s photo for mail fliers in your neighborhood and nationally.

    ……..ALL without your consent and you knowing about it.

    • MonkeyWork

      The problem is you’ve given your consent. Read the legal stuff.

  • br_hermon

    Ok so… wouldn’t it be more damaging to Instagram or facebook or whomever you decide to delete your account with if instead of deleting your account, just gut it, remove all the photos and keep the account open. Before you know it, Instagram, Facebook and others are just empty ghost towns with nothing of real value to offer their “third-party” customers? Seems to me that’s a better way to stick it to them then just up and leave.

  • Paradisimo

    Why not make it worth the customers while? Offer to pay the user a couple of bucks for every time one of their pictures is used and charge $5-10 for the license. With this type of model you would actually encourage people to add to the photo vault as opposed to encouraging them to take their photos elsewhere.

  • Jojo

    I really like Droid Life and follow it religiously because of this type of dialog about the evolution of social media.

    Q: Any way I can access Droid Life’s Privacy Policy?

  • vs8

    I already deleted everything and moved to EyeEm.

  • DanWazz

    Good thing I only take crappy pictures.

  • Korey Page

    I feel that it just overreaction from some of y’all. Instagram is not going to use your “tweegrams” and “throwback thursday” pics. Besides posting to social networking sites you would assume this is the issue. They can have all my random pics of memes and such. For the most part Instagram hasn’t been for real pictures for awhile. Its just Facebook w/o all the hassle.

  • Yagermeister

    Deleted my Instagram account right away after reading this. Will delete Facebook immediately as well if their ToS change to something like this too.

    • I might be wrong, but doesn’t facebook already have that policy?

      • Yagermeister

        I don’t believe they can sell your photos to third parties. I believe you can restrict the use of your photos in Facebook Ads

  • A really nice article on Geek.com on how to export all your photos and cancel your account:


  • I deleted my account as soon as Facebook bought them which was disappointing since it was only a few weeks after they released their native Android app. Looks like I made the right choice.

  • Lucas

    SO – does this have any effect on the people who use “private” accounts? Is this strictly aimed at the public accounts that anyone can see/follow? …

  • Hesedguy

    Account deleted, they make money off of my work? I think not.

  • Stewie

    sheep are sheep, no matter the platform in this instance. You Never place something of value onto another service, you will lose it in the end.

  • Silver Veloz

    I don’t use Instragram, but I do have a Facebook account. What about just putting a Watermark across your photos. This may hinder your photos being used for anything.

  • This is really sad because all lunch photo jokes aside, there are some very talented photographers out there. There’s even teams for big cities. I’ve seen photos of Boston and New York and Cape Cod that are second to none. Very sad.

    • Dain Laguna

      Im suprised this hasnt been downvoted into oblivion. Almost every dlifer seems to not understand this concept

      • I think the average DroidLife reader understands that Instagram, like Twitter, can be used to do highly creative and impressive things if an individual is motivated. However, Instagram is not the only (or even best anymore) photo-sharing platform that allows users to be highly creative. In fact, with Communities, Google+ is really starting to focus on becoming a place where people can find others of similar interests, such as photography, and I think has really found its little place in the world as a social platform.

  • Tyler Rynberg

    So for those of you who use Instagram, let me ask you a question. If there was a service that did the exact same thing but kept your photos private and never sold them but they cost $3-5/month, would you use it instead?

    • Go Hawkeyes

      It’s hard for hipsters to pay for internet services when they spend all their time they could be working hanging out at Occupy rallies instead.

  • chrisjohn

    This is a great business move and i applaud fb for it…

    Now to the people crying im del my account…grow up…like your important enough for anyone to buy your photos….and like you didnt post them for ANYONE to look at of your profile isnt privste anyway…this will not effect you one bit…and if you dont want people seein ur pics why u posting them to social media and on the internet?…yeah so theres a .000001% chance your pic gets sold n makes instagtam and fb a dollar when you been using their services for free keeping in touch with friends and loved ones for how long now? Get over yourselves

    • Fattie McDoogles

      I agree with the first. I think this is a genius move by Facebook. I would do the same things in a heart beat if I were them. And honestly, I think most people would. Its a dollars and cents game and Facebook is playing to win. I do feel bad for all the people who are using Instragram to market (especially photographers) I feel bad. You make money off of the things you are posting and you will get no credit for your work and that’s not right. There needs to be something in the ToS that gives people credit for their pictures or products. I halfway feel bad for the women of instagram because let’s be honest, your pictures are the ones that most people want to use. I feel bad for anyone who is going to end up on one of those scam porn ads. That’s terrible and can really ruin someones image. Everyone… get over it most of you complaining aren’t going to be used anyways. I didn’t hear any of you complaining when Instagram used you all to be sold to Facebook, so why cry now?

    • SamFord

      Just because you don’t understand ethics & choose to be ignorant, don’t get on others.

  • Dave Diamond

    I’m keeping my account, to make sure they don’t give my name to somebody else, but I’ve deleted all of my pictures.

  • Rodeojones000

    The only time I use Instagram is to make the crappy photos my Nexus takes appear a little less crappy before sharing them on Facebook. If they want to sell them to some random company, have at it.

  • Cue the spike in watermarking apps.

  • Jeff

    Privacy policy updates always means you’re getting less privacy and they’re going to make more money out of you.

  • Hothfox

    If I were a professional photographer and uploaded my work for the purpose of sharing to a wide audience, I would be upset and would cancel my account.

    As a normal user who just uploads fun pictures that detail a moment in my day, I am not all that freaked out. Most of my stuff isn’t relevant to a brand anyway.

  • jasonk

    Someone please break this down for me. My Instagram profile is private. If I post pics and DO NOT USE hashtags/check-ins, will they be able to grab them and sell? Thanks.

  • Thinking Hard

    Didn’t a Federal Judge just give a some guy 10 years for something sort of like this? Granted he hacked into a personal account and then stole the pictures and sold them. Sort of the same thing isn’t it?

    • Tyler Rynberg

      Look up the two-tier justice article on the Guardian…same principle applies

    • Respen

      Not even a little bit.

      • Fattie McDoogles


  • fallsgable

    Question, and this may sound naive and NOOB….but are we talking about ALL pics posted on FB, even if NOT taken or filtered with Instagram???
    Does FB (and now by default Instagram) have access to ALL pics posted on FB because of this???
    Or if I am simply posting pics to FB directly, and have never used Instagram to do so, safe from all of this SHITE!!

    • Whatever you post on fb stays on fb. Now if you post instagram photos to fb, you have photos on instagram and the book.. If you don’t have instagram then you have nothing to worry about.

  • Underage users aren’t exempt from the changes – by agreeing to the terms, those under-18 acknowledge a parent or guardian is aware of the terms and that the minor’s name, username, likeness and/or photos (with associated metadata) is up for grabs.

  • LennyG

    HERE’S HOW TO DELETE ONE’S INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT http://help.instagram.com/customer/portal/articles/95760

  • YinzerRob

    bad move. at least take a better approach where the ACTUAL owner can receive a cut even if it’s a small percentage.

  • I applaud this move. It should reduce the deluge of square, sepia/desaturated images for a while.

  • EvanTheGamer

    “You are not our customers, you are the cattle we drive to market and auction off to the highest bidder. Enjoy your feed and keep producing the milk.”

    That guy pretty much summed up Instagram’s new idiotic policy.


  • Rob

    Hmmm, maybe I should start using Snapseed only?

  • Kerry Davies

    That’s dirty. Not that I’m posting anything life altering, but Im not stoked to know my pix will be making there way to random sites. Instagram has really gone down hill, since there purchase by FB. Not loving it.

  • schoat333

    I smell a lawsuit coming. If that hotel wants to use my pictures in an add, they can pay me.

    • They mention twice in the update that they are not liable for anything.

      “Another unusual addition to Instagram’s new policy appears to immunize it from liability, such as class action lawsuits, if it makes supposedly private photos public. The language stresses, twice in the same paragraph, that “we will not be liable for any use or disclosure of content” and “Instagram will not be liable for any use or disclosure of any content you provide.”

      • Chris King

        Just because they put not liable doesn’t make so. Amusement parks put this on their tickets.but if you get hurt guess what,yep they in fact are liable.

        • Oh, Apples to Oranges. Cool. lol

          • Fattie McDoogles

            I am very interested to see how this gets cleaned up. They needs to be more clarification and specific details as to what can and can’t be sold.

          • Exactly. There certainly does.

    • EvanTheGamer

      I smell a lot of account closures.

  • Booyah

    I’ll probably just be more weary of what I post pictures of (personal stuff), especially using the photo map. Makes perfect sense why they started photo map in the first place…

  • I have never uploaded 1 photo to Instagram. I downloaded the app and then uninstalled it once facebook bought them.

    • QQpayne

      I did the same, happy about that decision now.

  • DroidBricker

    If I close my account how will I know what I had for lunch last May?

  • npompei

    I knew I hated Facebook for many reasons. Tick another. Shame about Instagram, can’t blame them though. Here’s a billion dollars – “umm ok”

    Guess this is also my fault for putting pics of my kid onto Instagram to share with friends…

  • I Have no problem, I love me so the world can love me as well…. Bring it on instagram

    • Nexus_FrEak

      You Go Girl!!!

    • Zombiestevejobs

      I’m pretty sure you won’t feel the same way if a “date hot singles” site starts using your photos in their ads…I have a friend that went through hell to get her “mirror self photo” off some f*** buddy site

    • Zombiestevejobs

      nevermind, I looked at your facebook…you’d love the exposure and I’m pretty sure you’re auditioning for that role already

      • Kill yourself …. Oh have a nice day … FYI don’t be mad cause your not me …

        • Zombiestevejobs

          hmm…pretty sure it’d be a curse to be you…and it’s *you’re* as in You’re the reason instagram implemented filters… #MakeupSetToWhoreMode

  • mneighbo

    I do have my own photography website, but if I share with my friends on Instabook, they will have a watermark and signature.

    • Thats one way to do it. But the problem i have when i share my pics on instagram is that the watermark is not always in the crop area.

  • Never used Instagram, never thought I might use Instagram…and now I know I will NEVER use Instagram. Thinking of deleting FB too.

    • You are behind the times man. Deleted facebook app months ago.

      • Christopher Smarr


    • Masta Marc

      Why? Because now you’re aware of what they’ve probably already been doing?

    • snowblind64

      Right there with you. It’s a pretty shady move for Instagram/FB to be using their users private pictures for financial gain and they obviously have no respect for privacy. Never used Instagram. Never got Facebook account either. I am on Google+ though.

      • Trevor Clement

        “…and they obviously have no respect for privacy.”

        Posting your pictures on the internet in itself means you are giving up your right to privacy. I think it’s shady to sell the photos without at least giving the user a share of the money, but let’s be real about the internet and privacy.

        • snowblind64

          There is no doubt that posting pictures on the internet means giving up some degree of privacy. The problem is that Facebook continues to take more and more liberties with what you post via their services. I think a lot of people would agree that their actions cross the line and are just unacceptable. Where does it end for Facebook? How low will they sink in order to monetize their users information?

      • michael arazan

        FB claims all intellectual ownership over all pics, videos, and anything you say on FaceBook, as well as puts hidden cookies in your computer to track every website you go to, unless you delete all cookies after going to facebook.

        –Google+ does none of these things

        FaceBook is clearly behind this, screw facebook and their intrusive BS, they are going to reword it with so much legal jargon no one will understand it, and they will just do the same thing again. Except celebrities were outraged, this time, because they didn’t want their private or fan pictures being sold without their approval or payments.

  • jseah114

    So I guess this means Facebook can make tons of money selling/licensing photos of Kim Kardashian and she won’t see a dime of it. Love it.

  • Mack

    I was just about to sign up for Instagram when the app came to Android but changed my mind when they were bought be Facebook. It looks like I have another reason to say I made the right decision.

  • Charles Clout

    I must admit that I’m not a fan at all of Facebook so these changes made me delete my account ant their access to my (probably worthless) pictures.

  • DroidBricker

    Damn! I have to get all of my toenail and sammich pics off there now!

    • RampageDeluxe

      No, Don’t! I need pics for my toenail sammich shop.

  • zepfloyd

    Instagram for me is one of the few things I flip through and browse way more than I use or contribute to anyway.

    btw Tato you SHOULD be paid for your Thor and Loki shots….

  • John

    I honestly don’t give a shi t either way. I don’t put anything personal on there.

  • Never used it. Its a waste. Future generations will laugh when the see pictures from 2012 look like pictures from 1970. Seriously, what is the big deal with Instagram? Seems like a nice product for narcissists who take pics of themselves in front of a mirror.

    • How did u know : )

    • Go Hawkeyes

      What’s the big deal? Kids these days realize they suck and have no originality and that my generation was so much better.

      • Stevedub40

        +1 to that. They pretty much rip off everything from previous generations. Damn little whipper snappers!

        • shdowman

          Get off my lawn!!!!!

  • My issue is that I used Instagram to share pictures of my children with the family. Ya…not wanting picture of my kids being sold and used by companies without my knowledge, much less my consent.

    • Plenty of other sites that accomplish this, integrate with Android, and won’t assume ownership of your photos to sell them.

      • LionStone


    • Go Hawkeyes

      Google Drive works well for me. I created a root folder that is shared with anyone who has the link. In it I place new folders all the time with pictures of my kids. New folder for different events. Family has the root folder bookmarked and access it whenever they want and can download the photos and videos whenever they want in full quality.

  • Nexus_FrEak

    More reasons to move to G+ …. Hopefully.

    • EvanTheGamer

      That’s what I’m thinking. Other Image hosting sites(like Google+) will hopefully capitalize on Instagram’s new idiotic policy shift, and maybe offer us something more than what we’re currently getting. We’ll see.

    • Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that G+ has some similar lingo in their TOS. Many pro photographers flipped out when G+ first launched due to the same issue.

      • “Some of our Services allow you to submit content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.” http://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/terms/

        Though, it does go on to say that they reserve the right to use your content for themselves (I assume as a trade-off for using their “free” services), but they can not sell or otherwise provide your personally generated non-public content in any manner to a third party a la Instgram’s new policy.

        If something such as an image is posted as public, they will index it just as they would any other image posted online, and it is up to you to place the proper copyright protections on the image (watermarks, overlays, etc.), just as with any image you post online for public viewing.

  • chris125

    Well this is what happens anytime facebook gets a hold of a service.

  • Greg Morgan

    Why can’t Social Media outlets just leave our information alone??

    • Because we’re using THEIR services to display it and share it.

      • Greg Morgan

        True. I’m seeing on Twitter that if you put your profile Private that they won’t license your pics to anyone.

        • With so much fuss over it, we can probably expect some type of revision that clearly states what FB intends to do here. It’s still early.

          • NT

            YOU are the product, you are what they want, and they use the service to get you. No one understands this, g+, Facebook and twitter make money off of people, we are the product being consumed.

          • R. Wayne Craft

            “we are the product being consumed” – if i didnt know better, i would think we are plugged into the Matrix already….or wait…

          • I think a lot of people understand this actually. That’s why they’re upset? lol

    • noc007

      Because you don’t pay for the service and as a result, you and/or what you do on the site is the product. Your activity on Google and Facebook are the same; they datamine everything you do, including the sites you go to that has their integration or using Chrome; that information is collected and sold for a nice profit because there is so much value in that information.

  • I will be deleting my account. Probably on Facebook too.

    • You know, I’ve thought about this, but sadly it’s become a common way to get a hold of people, so I can’t bring myself to doing it.

      • Rob

        This is the exact reason I’m on facebook.

      • msnight04

        Same. There’s a few family members I love to stay in contact with but I cannot talk them into switching to G+. I’ve been trying since the service started.

      • InyRules

        I really hated that I had to create a FB to stay in touch with people. I enjoyed finding old buddies, but I hate that everything I do on FB is being logged and sold. I try never to post any pictures of myself or others, but I have no control if someone else posts a picture of me. Sure, I can untag myself, but the picture with my face on it still exists.

        • shooter50

          paranoid much?

    • noc007

      I’m curious if they’ll be doing this with Facebook as well. Sadly FB is the only way my family keeps up with each other and they share a bunch of photos.

    • RampageDeluxe

      I got rid of facebook a while ago and it was liberating. I started actually calling people and hanging out in person.

  • Hell no! Screw you, Facebook!

  • AK

    First divorcing Twitter and now this? They are really shooting themselves in the foot.