Instagram steps away from advertiser plan in wake of user backlash
(CBS News) Instagram, the photo-sharing website owned by Facebook, is backing away from a plan that would give advertisers more access to photos on the site.
The new policy sparked a huge protest on social media.
On Monday, the popular photo-sharing service Instagram announced changes to the way it shares user photos with advertisers. In an update to its terms and conditions, Instagram said users would "...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."
Joe Brown, editor of Gizmodo, said, "What they can do is basically show your photos to other people. If this is something that makes you feel uncomfortable, well then it's something you should absolutely think about when you take a picture or if you want to take a picture at all."
The changes, which were to start mid January, sparked a social media uproar. On Twitter, 'boycott Instagram' quickly became a trending topic, with Instagram users vowing to delete their accounts and urging others to do the same.
The public outcry is not typical of the application's loyal fan base who use it to capture and share some of life's most personal and public moments. In November, an Instagram photo of Hurricane Sandy appeared on the cover of Time magazine.
Instagram founder Kevin Systrom said on "CBS This Morning" in November, "That's what I think is most powerful about what we're doing. You can take a photo, share it and have it, instantly within seconds."
Since launching in 2010, the application has registered more than 100 million active users. Last April, Facebook announced it was buying Instagram in a deal worth $1 billion.
Brown said, "Instagram has got to make money. They have to deliver on the promise to Facebook that they're worth these hundreds of millions of dollars."
But in an industry where reputation means everything, the company issued a swift response to the online revolt, saying it would be reviewing the policies that had caused such a stir.
Watch Seth Doane's full report in the video above.
This is the type of issue tech users are likely to see more of going forward, according to Dan Ackerman, a senior editor at CNET. He explained on "CBS This Morning," "People are going to start reading these terms of service, kind of the legal jargon that goes along with every website, whether it's Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. And you know what, they're not lawyers. They may not be able to interpret it directly, but also, these companies let the lawyers write the terms of service and they go as broad as humanly possible. And we kind of had a perfect storm yesterday where you had new terms of service for Instagram, which everybody uses, everybody loves, that kind of seemed like a big land grab. 'We can use your photos. We can sell them.'"
For more with Ackerman, watch his full interview.
But, he said, selling your photos wasn't really the intention of the new terms. Ackerman said Instagram is more interested in what you're photographing -- not the photos themselves. He said, "They're interested in what topics you're liking, what you're taking pictures of, in terms of what kinds of stores and brands, and letting your friends know that you also like brand X, and letting brand X know you like them, so they can serve you up an ad. That's the real connection there."
Looking ahead, Ackerman said Instagram will rewrite the terms of service in plainer English. He added, "It's going to be a bit narrower, but even in the big blog post from the founder of Instagram yesterday, there was a lot of, sort of, 'We don't have any plans do this at this time' kind of jargon, so they could come back to this at any point."
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