Users were understandably outraged when they learned last week that Instagram was planning on changing its terms of service.  Those changes would have meant, among other outcomes, that Instagram could have shared users’ date about, for example, their favorite restaurants, with Facebook and its advertisers so they could better target ads.  Other proposed changes made it appear that Instagram was revising its Privacy Policy so that users’ photos could be used in ads without the users being paid and without the users even knowing that their photos were being used.

Instagram was somehow surprised by the strength and depth of the outraged reactions to their changes.  So they reversed course and issued a statement saying, among other, things that:

  • Their proposed changes had been mis-interpreted.  In the future, they will complete plans for new ad products and then come back to users with an explanation.  Here, they said, they had been talking about plans not yet completed.
  • The Privacy Policy would be “tweaked” to assure users that their photos won’t be appear without their consent in 3rd party sites.
  • They had no intent of selling users’ photos.
  • They would be going back to their old terms of service.

But Instagram users still need to pay attention to future announcements.  Why? Because the advertising section of  the current terms of service contains language stating that Instagram can places ads on the service and “the manner, mode and extent of such advertising and promotions are subject to change without specific notice to you….”  That language gives Instagram considerable leeway for making changes in the future.

So Instagram users can feel good that their concerns were heeded but that doesn’t negate the need for future diligence.