Despite changes, unhappy Instagram users still suspending accounts

Wired | The New York Times | TPM | Time

Instagram changed the language in its new terms of service, but some people who use the service are still loudly taking their photos elsewhere. Photojournalist Ben Lowy, for one. National Geographic, for another.

"We have been warning them about such onerous terms and conditions and many of the few members who were using Instagram are no longer doing so," National Press Photographers Association lawyer Mickey Osterreicher tells Poynter in an email.

Wired writer Mat Honan says his problem is that there's "no way to opt out" of the company using users' names, likenesses and content in advertisements.

Sure, my photos aren’t the greatest or the prettiest or the most original. But they’re mine. And if you want to do something with them, just ask me, okay? I’m not even saying no. I’m just saying: Have enough respect to ask me and give me options.

By putting terms in place that offered no way to opt out, short of deleting your account, Instagram delivered an ultimatum.

App developer Jeremy Pinnix tells The New York Times' Jenna Wortham he zapped his Instagram account because he didn't want to see photos of his family used in ads (a handsome photo of his children accompanies the article, however).

In a blog post Tuesday, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom explained the company's stance on ads:

Let’s say a business wanted to promote their account to gain more followers and Instagram was able to feature them in some way. In order to help make a more relevant and useful promotion, it would be helpful to see which of the people you follow also follow this business. In this way, some of the data you produce — like the actions you take (eg, following the account) and your profile photo — might show up if you are following this business.

Instagram's always had that right, Nilay Patel wrote Tuesday. "Your photos are your photos. Period," Systrom wrote.

But Rutgers professor Greg Lastowka told Talking Points Memo's Carl Franzen the "difference between ownership and the right to sell a user’s content to others without paying the user any compensation, while a real legal difference, is pretty subtle in practice." Users are still "granting Instagram a non-exclusive right to do pretty much anything it wants" with their content, University of Michigan prof Jessica Litman told Franzen.

The lingering ickiness is still inspiring threats to leave the service. But on the Internet, TechCrunch columnist MG Siegler argues, "quit" means to "threaten to leave as loudly as possible, usually over something stupid, then do nothing."

In Time, Doug Aamoth did a funny roundup of things Internet users have threatened to quit recently. He lists reasons to quit reading Time:

We’re lazy, stupid, inconsequential, old, young, condescending, Apple pays us under the table, Google pays us under the table, Microsoft pays us under the table, Amazon pays us under the table, we never say anything bad about companies, we never say anything good about companies, all we write are lists.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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