Tuesday, December 18

Instagrams new terms of services - what's the fuzz?

There’s a lot of discussions and articles about Instagram’s new terms of Service, effective on Jan. 16th 2013. For different reasons, I decided to write a post with my personal opinion and thoughts regarding these, discussing some of the main concerns raised.

I’m not a legal expert, nor am I a technical expert in social media other than being a user of many of the services out there. I write this post as an avid and experienced user of different services (like FB, Instagram, Flickr, twitter, foursquare, about.me ++) and I’d like to call myself an expert in practical and logical thinking :). I’d like to note that this is my personal opinion, based on my way of thinking and my way of interpreting the legal terms discussed in some of the articles published about the new terms.

Before I start, maybe everyone should take a moment to think through how life would be without the services that "uses" us (like FB, twitter, google, Instagram +++++) If you want to stay private, the only way is to not use these services AT ALL, don't post anything online, don’t registre or order anywhere online, payed or not payed service. They all use our information.

Now about those terms. If you read the legal terms on their own, of course they sound scary (at least if you understand them:)). If you start putting them in practical examples combined with some pure logic, they might be less scary.

What’s an example of  “using your username and photo in an ad” ? Have you ever had FB suggesting new friends? Based on the fact that you have several friends in common, they suggest that you know eachother. This is an ad, it probably isn’t recognized by you as one, but it is, and FB is using your data  and your picture to make the suggestion to someone who might be a friend, but also might be a total stranger.

Have you ever registerd to a new service, i.e. pinterest, twitter, Instagram etc. and been asked to “find friends on FB”? This is a service provided by FB to third parties. They give the new service access to their users database and based on your email address they know who your friends are.

Have you ever stopped to think about why you get adds on FB that actually fits your interests? If you have registred somewhere that you are interested in photography, you get adds that are related to photography. That’s another example of FB using your data and giving it to third partys. I’m not bothered by this, because I’m not letting it bother me. I ignore it. If you don’t want this to happen, don’t put your interests out there.

Now about that logical thinking. Think about this: FB and Instagram needs us more than we need them. I repeat, Instagram needs us more than we need them!!!!

What would they be without their users? Would they really do something that made all the users stop using them??? I really don’t think so. They may have put some legal terms down to cover their backs, but that doesn’t mean that they are going to use them litterally and fully. Yes, they will use our data, give information about how many of us are interested in photography to third partys, give information about what places we visit, what we eat etc., but so do other services to which we registre. This is not something new. If you don’t want geographic/location information to be shared, don’t use the geo tag on your pictures or foursquare or “places” on FB. Only YOU can control this and you have the option to not give this information away. They can only use information that YOU give them. Just as they can only use pictures that YOU publish.

Now, take a minute to think about what it is exactly that you are you worried about that Instagram will do with the new terms. Are you worried that Instagram starts stealing your pictures and uses them to make money? I am not. I repeat I am NOT! This is where my logical thinking comes in. Have you ever read the Instagram blog? If you have, have you noticed that they always credit the owner of the pics that they publish? What does that tell you? Who wouldn't like to have their picture featured on that blog? You don't get payed for it, but it's a fantastic and valuable, not to forget honorable exposure. Do you still think that Instagram will steal your pictures and make money from them? What would that bring them exept unhappy “customers”? There’s no way Instagram (or FB for that matter) would survive and keep their users if they started using their pictures in a way that violated the owners copyrights. Believe me, they (they as in Instagram and FB and all the other services) know this, they know there are enough sites out there that monitor EVERYTHING they do, and like I said before: They need us more than we need them. And they know it.

I guess you already know that anyone who can see your pictures on FB or Instagram (or Flickr) can download them or copy them very easily. If you are worried about them being stolen, that’s a genuine worry, but I am much more worried about people, “friends” (as in followers on IG or twitter, or friends on FB) or just random people stealing them than I am in Instagram or FB doing it. The only way to reduce/avoid stealing is to watermark them, use low quality pics only or not post them at all. As a photographer, depending on selling my pictures and products to earn money,  I worry about this too of course. But I think the benefits of publishing and sharing my pictures online is much greater than not sharing. It’s a choice that I have made and up till now it has helped me get where I am today. My business would have been close to nothing if I hadn’t had social media to share and show my work.

I hope I made some sense here, at least to some of you. Remember, I'm saying this as a user of social media, not claiming to be an expert in legal or technical terms, just using my common sense and probably some female intuition:) Now it’s up to you to decide what is best for you and try to see all sides before you decide. Good luck!!!


Keith Doucet said...

With your permission, ;) I would like to share this on FB. Common sense is in such short supply these days and the opportunity to enlighten people gives me great joy. Loved the blog.

Marianne said...

Thank you Keith and of course you can post it:) Glad you appreciated it. Anyway we'll have untill the 16th to see what it all really means:)

Anonymous said...

good post but you typing "add" for "ad" is really distracting, fix that before this goes viral! :)

Josh Richard said...

While I appreciate your logical sense, and I understand and agree with some of the points you've made I feel as though you are overlooking a very real principles. What Facebook (because Instagram is owned by Facebook) is stating here is that they have the authority to use your photos as they see fit. Hilton needs a new ad campaign but doesn't want to pay photographers for their time and effort? No problem, cut a check to FB and have a vast resource of pics at your disposal. This terminology in their "user agreement" is unprecedented. All other picture hosting sites have explicit rules governing the use of it's users property, i.e. pictures. Is it possible for someone to steal your pictures of Flikr? sure it is! but the likelihood is mitigated by the laws governing the site.

Think about it like this. What if you, a amateur/professional photographer uses social media (as you say you do) to elevate and engage an audience previously unreachable. Your photos are now in the hands of millions of people versus hundreds, yet your photos remain your property. What these new terms are indicating is that regardless of who you are, or what you post FB has all the legal ways of being able to sell YOUR property without giving any credit to you. So instead of inspiring someone, and that person "follow" or "like" you and your work; your work is now published by FB and the author is FB.

Why are they doing this? The answer is more about $$ than you would like to believe. FB entered the publicly traded stock market at $38 a share. Since then it has lost over 50% of it's price trading today (December 18 2012) at $27.25. Morgan Stanley was sued over $5 million for overstating the value of the stock. All this I say to say that there is enormous pressure from investors, on a global scale, to see the money stream, revenue, of FB. FB needs to find a way to monetize it's millions of users. It has started to advertise more heavily on the desktop site, but there is 10x the amount of traffic that goes through it's mobile app, of which FB can not advertise for fear of a huge uproar. So what does it do? It simply takes what you have put on public display to repackage and sell to the highest bidder. I can promise you that FB has put these changes in place to basically offer any business the world's largest collection of photos.

In conclusion, do I think that this is horrible? No. Am I so naive to think that peoples property isn't stolen and resold everyday? No. Al I'm saying is that it's a very logical business move from a company that is under pressure to deliver value to it's stockholders. Economics, not "user rights" drives this train.

jessica wilson said...

I am not on Instagram as I do not have a smart phone but I do use FB and other sites regualrly and often see the panic in peoples posts. I have to say I like what you write. It makes common sense and as a business I woudl like ot believe they are covering all the bases. Who knows? If enough people panic and leave it may open the door for anew site or maybe even chage the soon-to-be policy. Power in numbers and all that jazz. They do need us more than we need them. Thank you!

Roberto Hermann said...

Marianne allow me to express my gratitude, you made me smile today because you just demonstrated something that me and part of my family struggle to make people understand, and it is that common sense is the least common of all which is the base foundation of everything created by us human beings.
Thank you.

Get More Instagram Followers said...

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