Not as bad as it sounds: the new Instagram TOS is not what people think

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Stop pretending you’re a lawyer, dammit!

It’s that time of the year again, and again, and again, and again. Yep, it’s another hysterical fit of mass-outrage from uninformed, dooms-day-fearing bloggers.

This time, Instagram is to blame with a few bright, shiny new lines in their Terms of Service agreement. Check out these shocking discoveries:

You agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.

So, as usual, this is outrageous! A free service making money from ads or even using their users photos in ads!

Well, if you’re really that paranoid that your lattest frappuccino Instagram photo is going to become part of some other companies ad platform, feel free to jump out of the service and into another temporarily free service (until they also add the same lines in their TOS) or just take a deep breath and read it over again.

This probably just means Instagram can now display paid ads alongside your freely-stored photos…

So, "a business or other entity" can pay Instagram to "display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take" in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions. Maybe, just maybe, this means that Instagram can now display your photo, username, metadata, likeness alongside an ad which would sit next to it. Because, really, unless I’m missing something, that’s what this sounds like. Truly.

I think people should act in the way they have threatened today. It’s healthy to be worried about a company doing something immoral with your data. But we really need to stop pretending we’re all lawyers. Because this is legal mumbo-jumbo, designed to protect Instagram against any kind of lawsuit users will throw at it. Will they use it? No. Will it be used in the way you’ve interpreted it will? Probably also no.

If you’re still worried, maybe you shouldn’t be using a free, public photo-sharing website and, I dunno, pay for a Dropbox. But wait, they also own your data. So does Google. So does Facebook. So does Microsoft. The list goes on. Most companies will use their TOS to run the service. And as soon as there is proof that they’re doing something dodgy, not an interpretation of lawyer-targeting Terms of Service rulings by a blogger, then leave.

Or as Sam Biddle of Gizmodo says, "If anything you Instagrammed were so sacred, you wouldn’t have put it on Instagram." Couldn’t have said it better myself.