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Instagram apology clarification or backtrack?

Instagram to lose users over privacy worries?

Hundreds of thousands of comments flooded social media portals to oppose Instagram's new privacy policy.

December 19, 2012 9:52 by

It is often repeated that  ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ and that even bad press is still good press. If that statement is anything to go by, then Instagram is one lucky company.

After the photo app (now owned and managed by Facebook) published a revised Privacy Policy and Terms of Service on their public forum, the implication of its new guidelines took the world by storm. The Instagram hashtag made it to the Twitter Trends list in many countries, including the UAE. What was understood from the updated version was that the company would be allowed to sell your photos for commercial gains and leave you out of the equation.

The only apparent way out was for unwilling users to deactivate their accounts before a January 16 deadline – on which the revised policy will be put in place.

One of the more popular tweets was that of Anderson Cooper, anchor at CNN. His tweet was re-tweeted over 5,000 times and it read: #Instagram will now be able to use anyone’s photos in ads? Without consent? Come on! Is there another photo app people recommend?

Hundreds of thousands of disgruntled comments poured in, flooding the already explosive timeline of Twitter. Users in the UAE expressed their outrage at what they considered to be an invasion of their privacy. But then, in the late hours of the night – after witnessing the havoc that was created – Kevin Systrom, co-founder of the company published a blog post to apologise for the misunderstanding and the use of vague language. Titled ‘Thank you, and we’re listening’, it read as follows:

Since making these changes, we’ve heard loud and clear that many users are confused and upset about what the changes mean. I’m writing this today to let you know we’re listening and to commit to you that we will be doing more to answer your questions, fix any mistakes, and eliminate the confusion.”

It was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.”

Even after the blog post went viral, some users were relieved while others weren’t convinced. Nothing like the power of the people to force a company to take a U-turn they thought. They believed it wasn’t a clarification but rather, a sudden change of heart.

“Come on people, this isn’t a “clarification” it’s a backtrack,” tweeted James Temple, a Dot Com commentary columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Many agreed with him.

Do you think that Instagram are genuinely apologetic and that it was just vague language used? Or do you believe that the protests of users forced them to turn it around?

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1 Comment

  1. PPM on December 20, 2012 1:38 pm

    There was nothing “vague” about the wording. It was very clear and was in line with Facebook’s avowed intent to “monetise” everything they have….. and most of what they have – other than a few lines of mediocre code – is (currently) the property of their users. They got slapped in law courts not long ago when they tried to lay claim to ownership of people’s photos and stuff.

    This new plan might have worked well.. Let’s imagine Mark’s plan. 1)Instagram gets the rights to sell photos and nobody notices 2)FB moves all it’s photo handling to Instagram with a comment that by accepting this (minor) change you accept all Instagram’s T&C’s 4)FB makes money.
    Of course.. When somebody commits suicide because their photo gets put on posters all over the world then it wouldn’t be FB’s fault, or so they would claim.


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