Well, that’s the hyped up headline that has everyone overreacting and frantically deleting their Instagram accounts, perhaps prematurely. So I thought I would do a little research and share it with you, so that you might be able to make an informed decision.
Instagram is Selling Your Photos!
The official policy change from Instagram can probably be seen the next time you log on to Instagram. To summarize, “We may share your information as well as information from tools like cookies, log files, and device identifiers and location data with organizations that help us provide the service to you… (and) third-party advertising partners.”
In other words…
- Instagram can share information about its users with Facebook, its parent company, as well as outside affiliates and advertisers.
- Your image could be used in an advertisement — without your knowledge.
- Underage users are not exempt.
- Ads may not be labeled as ads.
- Want to opt out? Delete your account prior to January 16, 2013.
I don’t know about you, but I just assume if I have placed something on “Public” status anywhere on the Internet, I’ve lost my ability to “protect” it. Sure, there are privacy laws and regulations in place, but the Internet and technology make it difficult to enforce and nearly impossible to police. So as rule of thumb, if it’s “private,” I don’t post it. That’s just me. I’m not suggesting you live your virtual life any particular way, but if I have something I only want my “real life” friends or family to see, I send it to them… directly. And even then, if I’m using a phone, digital device, email or other form of technology, there’s no guarantee of privacy.
At best it’s difficult to protect any images that are posted on the Internet whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest or Instagram… or “Instagrab” as some have begun to refer to them. It’s not uncommon to see the same photos appear on countless people’s feeds as if it’s their own. It’s called a screen capture. In fact, thousands and thousands of very popular accounts are actually comprised of all stolen, or “borrowed” images. I never assumed @FashionFall2020 actually made that rainbow cake, or that @fitnessInspirationONaRainyDay is actually the fabulous fitness model in all those ripped muscular, scantily clad pics.
They Screenshot Anyway!
People screenshot my photos all the time, and to be honest… I love it! Now, I’m not a photographer, and it’s not “art” that I sell. If it were, I might feel quite differently. But if that were the case I would suggest paying to host your own photos. The bottom line for me is that I use social media to share my message, my motivation, my life, my fitness, my business and anything that I hope helps one of my followers. I hope that others will share it…. So the thought that my message, my image or my motivation might get passed around is in fact my intended effect J So……
I won’t be deleting my account. Here’s why…
I would be flattered if Instagram found a photo of me in my #NikeLunars and sold that image to Nike. But, umm… I kinda doubt that’s going to happen.
In fact, most of the people frantically deleting their accounts are doing so needlessly as their photos are not likely of commercial interest.
The most likely application of this new policy would be to allow companies (or advertisers) to purchase the API connected with photos that are hashtagged with their company (or specific hashtags).
For example, Colgate might be able to run a competition for their customers in which people post their best toothy grin with the hashtag #ColgateClean and use those photos in a Superbowl ad. Instagram after January 16th has the right to sell the API (a means of automatically pulling information from one website to another) to Colgate to display those Instagram pictures directly on their site or in an ad.
PLEASE NOTE that is just a hypothetical application.
However, I highly doubt that any reputable company is going to feature the likeness of individuals for whom they have not obtained a signed consent and release to do so. Do they have the right to if you’ve agreed to Instagram’s policy? It seems at this time they do. But it doesn’t prevent consumers for bringing lawsuits for use of their image for “publicity” or sale. Rights or no rights, people sue for these things everyday and big companies don’t often open themselves up to those types of headaches.
For example, even though Disneyland has the right to photograph and use your images because you have consented to tour their public resort, you would be hard pressed to find a random photo used in advertising or for publicity purposes.
Personally, I think that the headlines have created a bit of an “overreaction” on the part of the average user. Again, if you’re an artist with privately protected images with great value, you might want to delete or make your account private or move them to a hosted site. Another VERY SIMPLE option is to simply use a watermark like this.
You can make it small and hardly visible, or large and impossible to remove. Download just about any font app to your phone or desktop for this. I love “Turbo Collage” for desktop.
If you don’t want the world to see photos of your children or a private moment or anything else for that matter, don’t post it. Use your email account or a private hosting site to share those photos with family and friends.
For the rest of us, if you don’t want info floating around in cyberspace, then err on the side of caution and don’t post it. If you don’t wish for your private information to be sold, then never use a mobile device. As of January 1, 2013 the average American will have had their personal information sold over 100 times! Even “private” settings can be changed at the developer’s whim, not to mention technical glitches, which from time to time make this stuff public.
As one of my Facebook friends stated, “The amount of naiveté exhibited is stunning. You would all be surprised at how many sites we use do this kind of thing all the time. Everyone is piling on Instagram while many of the social services you already use have just as heinous TOS. Hello! Facebook Sponsored posts. Glad the media is all over this, wake up people, you and your personal data has already been sold.”
Bottom line, it’s Mark’s house. We play here by his rules or we have the right to pick up our toys and leave. Social media is “free,” but not really. There is a price to pay and that price is the lack of privacy we once enjoyed. The world has changed. Technology has improved. For the most part I am so thankful for the opportunity to be able to reach people in other cities, states and even countries, but I realize it comes at a cost. At the moment, I’m willing to pay that price and will keep my Instagram account. J
Comment below on your thoughts!
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this honest and realistic take on the “Instapocalypse”! So many people are freaking out, and they don’t even realize a) what the company will be (most likely) doing with the images in question and b) that they’ve ALREADY “opted-in” to such policies on the wealth of social media sites we are already a part of. Very well written and thought out!!
Thanks! : )
Robert Gonzalez says
There are some key points that I think you might have missed in all of this… Instagram has come outright and said it owns your content, likeness, username, likes and basically every other piece of information you post on your Instagram, even if your account is private. That means that if you have a private account, and you post a picture of your kid in front the Universal Studios sign, Universal can buy that image from Instagram and use it in any way, shape or form they want to without any further consent of yours (your consent is given by the fact you are using the Instagram service) or compensation to you IN PERPETUITY. That means that even if you choose to delete your account and content after the new terms take effect, any content you shared after that date becomes the legal property of Instagram and its parent, Facebook. Perhaps there are no pictures on Instagram of commercial interest to anyone, but I suspect this is part of a larger plan from Facebook to customize, personalize and humanize the online experience.
For those that have a business that would benefit from this change, more power to them. But for the vast majority of Instagram users that are not promoting a business – who are literally using it as a photo sharing site for friends and family – this change becomes a very unwelcome change. Even with a watermark, once the photo is legally purchased by an Instagram client, they will be free to do with it what they choose. This just doesn’t seem like a socially responsible thing for any service to do.
Hi Robert, I understand your concerns. That’s why you have to be careful of the personal and private posts that you make. I think from a business stand point though, if you’re using Instagram to build your brand, the more your photos are shared, the better…just use that watermark!
I stay to play!! Thanks, Chalene!
Jenelle Summers says
awesome! i totally agree sis! And @JenelleSummers is staying an #igaddict …at least for now anyway 😉
My concern would only arise if they were selling locations in which the photographs were being taken. And this can be avoided by turning off your geo-tag. If you are posting things of concern, should they be publicly posted anyway?!?
I agree with Chalene… Be flattered that someone likes your work!
I understand your POV. However, you state that “I highly doubt that any reputable company is going to feature the likeness of individuals for whom they have not obtained a signed consent and release to do so.”
What makes these companies “reputable’? Just because we are blind to use them everyday without question? That’s what gives me every reason to think they WOULD do so, without consent. Corporations and Companies, especially ones like Facebook, have proven to the people multiple-times over that they don’t act like, or have a regard for people. I don’t trust Instagram or Facebook to honestly sell our photos for their profit.
It may make you happy for Nike to buy a photo of you in your Lunar Glides; unless it’s Reebok, Adidas, or even Gillian Michaels buying that same photo and want to instead, convey you in another light.
Another example…a company like Body by Vi, who has already obtained photos illegally and misrepresented their own company in the past, can now do so, legally, through the means of Instagram, and can continue to falsify the claims on their products.
That’s just my take on this mess.
Thanks for the clarification of what is coming up. I WILL NOT delete my account. I am well aware that my photos are public. The reason being is that I want to motivate, support, and provided knowledge to anyone who is seeking it. If Instagram wants to grab and sell. By all means go ahead. It makes me even famous-er. I’ll definitely delete my other account with my children on it cause there are odd people out there.
Exactly! If you have your watermark on there, it can only lead to more eyeballs back on you…and for most people, that’s the whole reason why they’re using Instagram in the first place.
Casey Beard says
THANK YOU for posting this Chalene. You post with an unbiased and realistic sense of thinking. I have wondered why people were so up in arms over this. Don’t they realize once it’s on the net, it’s there for the world to see. You explained it so much better than I.
Raynee Cantrell says
I will definitely keep my account. I NEVER post anything I wouldn’t want someone to see or share, so there’s nothing for me to worry about. Now, if someone made a TON of money off of my picture I might reconsider, but I doubt that will ever happen! Just something new for everyone to cry and fuss about!
John Prause says
I totally agree with your post. Although the idea of my personal or business pics sold or distributed is kind of crazy. I don’t think I’m a target or a prospect for a major company to use my pics anyways. Most of the time we don’t even read the Terms & Agreements…. I know I don’t! Bottom line… If you want it private, use text or maybe email. Otherwise everything online or mobile is game. Like you said, mark your photos or just keep on trucking. This will be old news in Feb.
For sure! If it’s private, it doesn’t need to go on a social media site in the first place.
Stacy Harris says
I couldn’t agree more… if it is that private, you should air on the side of caution and not spread it via the world wide web. Personally, any picture I take, use it as you may. Anything that I write… well, I would hope people wouldn’t steal my thoughts, but if they want to share it, then share it. I write for a blog and I know there have been many occasions of others who have completely ripped off others words. It seems to be an age of plagerism. But, at the same time, I almost find it a compliment that they thought what I did was so well done, that they can’t help but take it. Do I want them to use my writings… no… I would rather have them link back to it and say this person said something everybody should read. As for photos, it was nothing I thought to big of a deal. If you want a picture of my smiling mug… go ahead and use it! Loved this article… wish people would stop overreacting. Social Media has given us a freedom that we never had before. Just use it responsibly. I will be sharing this! 🙂
That’s a good way to put it, Stacy! We do have a lot more freedom and opportunities with social media. You have to take the good with the bad.
Chalene, thank you for the great information broken down so easily. I will be keeping my account and learning how to watermark photos, which is something I need to learn anyway. So much to learn…..
Melodee Forbes says
Great article and awesome points!! I would definitely think twice if I was a photographer or creative artist. I agree with you – once it’s on social media then it’s exposure to the entire world and “free” really isn’t free.
Thank you for sharing your perspective!
Thanks for your comment! : )
Keren Stanton says
Great insight, Chalene! Thanks!
I think your opinion on this is wonderful! I agree that if you don’t want to share your personal life, then don’t post it! I also think it is kinda cool that they are going to be using people’s everyday pictures!
Dana Neve says
Chalene, I could not agree more! I said the same exact thing. Once you put something into cyberspace it is no longer yours. I assume anybody and everybody can see it. If you want to thrive in today’s world and reach many people with a message then you have to accept that privacy is a thing of the past. And I’m ok with that. Thanks for posting this!
Felicia Taub says
I’m keeping my instagram account but will limit the images I put out of my family especially my kids. Thank you for looking into this and sharing
Yes, you’re right Felicia…those kinds of pictures are definitely something to give more thought to before posting.
Kathy Kane says
Thank you, Chalene, for always providing insightful information. I am especially grateful for all the social media info you provide as I’m still getting my feet wet as far as social media is concerned. My thought has always been that if you post something on the internet, regardless of your privacy settings, the information is “out there” for the world to see. I am very careful of the content I post and respectful of the people that will be reading my information. I try to keep my posts to uplifting, motivational, helpful insights and never attempt to hurt or disrespect others in what I say. I’m of the opinion that if I can’t say something nice I just don’t say anything. Knowing that my posts are respectful, I have no regret in the world viewing my online presence. This is a good reminder that our privacy is a thing of the past when using social media. Thank you again.
Thank you for this post. I have been wondering what I should do all day. I have been cautious about the photos I post since I started using Instagram a few months ago and I will continue to do so. I will definately be using more watermarks though. Thanks again!
I admit, I did jump on instagram the minute I heard the new policy. Not to delete my account, just to double check what photos I had posted. Since my account is public, and I’m a very private person, I knew there wouldn’t be family photos, or any other such things I would care about the public seeing. In fact, if any of my photos showed up in a commercial I would probably just sit back, laugh, and get on with life. 🙂
If anything, this is just a reminder and a lesson to give a little more thought to what we put out there to the world. Is it something you will regret later on, or does it represent who you are? I think sometimes we lose sight of that with getting caught up in all the sharing that happens on social media. Good point!
Jason Curlee says
i’ll be keeping mine…and great post Chalene…
I’m not to worried about it…most of my instagrams are motivational or like yours are watermarked in some way.
At this point I will make sure to watermark my images, but once I changed my setting from private to public I knew my images could be anywhere….Thanks Chalene for the rundown!! Very appreciated!
Laurie Free says
I agree with you 200000 percent. Thanks!!
Ashley Fawks says
Ill be keeping my IG account. You’re right, once you become apart of the social media world nothing of yours is private anymore. You could google your name and tons of pictures of yourself of people who are pictured with you pop up. No big deal to me because I’ve already known that its not truly “private” and I don’t want to be.
Cathy C. says
THANK YOU!! I’ve been trying to tell people that as they delete their Instagram account and post those ridiculous Facebook messages about anything they post is owned by them. Once it’s out there, it’s OUT THERE!
Oh, and I love Turbo Jam! Even with modifications for my joints affected by lupus, it’s a terrific workout and really does put me in a better mood. I also sleep better and my pain levels decrease when I work out regularly.
Cathy C. 🙂
Agreed! Gotta be careful about everything you put out anywhere!
I am a huge fan of your Instagram site. I have recently been put in the position of social media coordinator at Wingate University for our Campus Recreation program (including group ex). I am also a certified Turbo Kick instructor as well!! I have been dying to know what you use to edit your videos and add music to them on Instagram, I am trying to do the same for videos of some instructors teaching at my Univ. Any tips would help! Thank you!