Following Monday’s announcement of a new intellectual property policy that would allow Instagram to sell users’ photographs without payment or notification, the popular online photo-sharing network is now changing its tune, promising to “remove” the wording that outraged so many.
Staying silent throughout the trending “Boycott Instagram” pleas on Twitter, CEO Kevin Systrom then took to his company’s blog to apologize to users, while promising that the company will work on removing the language that has upset them.
“Since making these changes, we’ve heard loud and clear that many users are confused and upset about what the changes mean,” he wrote. “As we review your feedback and stories in the press, we’re going to modify specific parts of the terms to make it more clear what will happen with your photos.”
The “language” that Systrom is referring to is the line of the policy where the company states that it has the perpetual right to license out all public data. The now-abandoned wording once read that users “…agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos….in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”
Despite how that reads, Systrom says, “To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos.”
How to Monetize?
The new policy, which was set to go into effect on Jan. 16, was the first big shift for the company since being acquired by Facebook three months ago. Yet, it seems Instagram’s attempt to profit on Mark Zuckerberg’s advertising scheme didn’t turn out as well for the photo platform, as it did for the original social network site, which publicizes its users’ “Likes” on their friends’ pages through sponsored story ads.
While the new policy positioned Instagram to become the world’s biggest stock photo agency, with a plethora of images for advertising needs at its disposal, the company is more likely interested in what users are taking pictures of, rather than the photographs themselves. By tracking what topics users are interested in and what they are taking pictures of, Instagram can inform brands which users show interest in their products, providing them with the perfect ad opportunity. And with more than 100 million users under its belt, Instagram could surely make a profit doing so.
While Instagram promises it has no intention of selling its users pictures, it will be interesting to see how the company redrafts its terms of service to reflect this pledge, as Facebook continues to look for more ways to monetize the site.