Facebook is altering the wording on the new Instagram terms of service after a flurry of criticism erupted Tuesday over advertising revenue generated by user photos.
The uproar emerged over a clause in the new agreement that set to take effect in mid-January.
"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," states the clause.
"To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business may pay us to display your user name, likeness, photos, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you."
Many users threatened to leave the photosharing service, interpreting that their photos could be used in advertising — with no reference to the person who owns the picture and with all payments going to Instagram.
'I don't care if someone uses a picture of my lunch yesterday for an ad.'—Lindsay Tompkins, Instagram user
But Chris Farias, co-founder of Kitestring Creative Branding Studio, says the uproar is unfounded.
"If you're staying in a hotel for free and they decided to change their curtains, there's not much you can do about it," Farias said. "In social media, you have to give up some privacy to enjoy it."
Facebook attempted to "eliminate the confusion" in a statement issued Tuesday.
"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," wrote Kevin Systrom, one of Instagram's co-founders. "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."
Instagram will also "remove the language that raised the question" about whether a user's photo could be used as part of an advertisement.
The company also said that Instagram users have ownership rights over their photos, and no changes have been made to the site's privacy settings.
Some have speculated that the company was backpedaling from its original stance to save face, but Farias said that he doesn't think that was the case.
"There was a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the agreement," Farias said. "And honestly, who reads those entire privacy things before clicking?"
"I thought clarifying it in the way they did was a really smart move on their part."
Instagram user and blogger Stephanie Trendocher told CBC Hamilton she respects that Facebook took responsibility and acknowledged that it is listening to the concerns of its users.
"I also appreciate that they were honest in saying Instagram was created to become a business." Trendocher said. "Is any internet service or app really free? When they gain momentum we all know they are going to be monetized in some way."
Hamilton community undaunted
Hamilton Instagram user Lindsay Tompkins said she doesn't think the change will affect how the photosharing service is used in Hamilton.
"We plaster our lives on the internet," Tompkins said. "So we have to expect that our photos and personal information is ending up somewhere."
"I don't care if someone uses a picture of my lunch yesterday for an ad."
Farias agreed, and added that people in the Hamilton social media community love sharing photos.
"The amount of pictures on Instagram with the #HamOnt hashtag is just unreal."
Other online services allow photo sharing
Facebook bought Instagram in April when the photo-sharing service was about two years old. It claimed 33 million users at the time.
Recently, Carolyn Everson, Facebook's vice-president of global marketing solutions, said: "Eventually we'll figure out a way to monetize Instagram."
The new terms of service has prompted a boom in a number of other online services, such as recollect.com or theopenphotoproject.com that offer to let people download their existing photos from Instagram into another archive.