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Instagram reverts terms of service after public outcry, makes them arguably worse

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instagram on iphone
instagram on iphone

After changes to its terms of service caused outcry from multiple corners, Instagram has reversed course, announcing that it will be reverting the offending section back to the version in place when the service first launched. The flashpoint was a change to the advertising section; a change in the language gave many the impression that Instagram would be selling users' photos whenever it felt appropriate. "Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010," co-fouder Kevin Systrom writes in a post on the company's blog. The updated terms of service are available on Instagram's site.

Instagram isn't going to stop pursuing advertising, however. Systrom's statement makes it clear that the company is going to continue to develop new products in that arena — but that it will come to users with a fully-developed product in hand that it can clearly explain, rather than baking in protection for future approaches into its TOS.

Today's news is actually a loss for users

Despite the public reaction, it's important to note that some of the changes Instagram suggested were actually improvements, outlining what the company could do in narrow, specific terms. The proposed tweaks made it very clear that advertisers, for example, couldn't just stick their logo on one of your photos and use it as an Instagram ad. The language the company's going back to is so broad that such use isn't out of the realm of possibility — and in that sense today's development is actually a loss for users. That's to say nothing of the rather gaping transparency hole left in the "Rights" section: a line that states Instagram never has to directly identify advertisements or sponsored content to users in the first place.

Of course, some of the proposed limitations could still resurface when Instagram feels ready to pitch its new advertising products to consumers. Until then, however, the advertising language remains the same as it ever was. Instagram's updated terms of service and privacy policy will go into effect on January 19th.