Instagram Clarifies “It Is Not Our Intention to Sell Your Photos”


Instagram’s co-founder, Kevin Systrom, has published a long and detailed letter on the company blog explaining how they will not be selling your photos. The note was written after the Instagram community was up in arms over their recently changed terms of service:

Advertising on Instagram From the start, Instagram was created to become a business. Advertising is one of many ways that Instagram can become a self-sustaining business, but not the only one. Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead 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. 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.

Earlier today we created a poll to ask if you were quitting Instagram over their recently changed terms of service. Here are the results as of writing:

instagram poll

If you’re using any free service on the web, your information becomes part of the service and is out of your control. With Instagram, many may have made knee-jerk reactions to delete their accounts prematurely, but it was the new language in the terms of service that caused people to react that way.

What do you think? Has the damage been done? Are you going to be reinstating your account if you’ve already shut it down? I mean, if you’re on Facebook still…your information is probably at greater risk compared to photos of what you had for dinner last night.


  • Tom

    I’ll beleive Instagram when I see it.

  • einsteinbqat

    Right… As if no legal team read though this new updated ToS… :S How can you not mean it? Did they first write it in Zulu, translated it in English, and got lost is translation? Give me a break. Just say “We screwed up. Sorry.”

  • gtasscarlo

    It might not be there “intention” but there gonna do it anyways. Glad I don’t use Instagram.

  • Sean

    What a load of crap from Instagram. They meant every word of it. You can’t tell me they made a mistake in their wording – it was obviously proofed over and over by legal teams.
    They still want to make money off photos I’ve taken with no thanks to me – I’m gone mid-January.

  • MleB1

    …and don’t kid yourself – Facebook (which now owns Instagram) probably had a similar adjustment to their ‘terms of service’ waiting in the wings, doubtless now being reviewed by their legal team since this uproar. Signing up to these ‘social networks’ still means you own the copyright to your photos, but you permit, for example, Facebook “…to use and display that content.” You might wish to think what “use” means.

    Maybe it’s time for a non-profit / co-op organization to come up with a social network?

    At any rate, come January I’ll do my annual review of whether to keep my Facebook account.

  • Legal documents don’t outline intentions. They’re designed to cover any possible angles and protect the company from lawsuits. Yes, it was proofed over by legal teams, to make sure it would cover them from every angle someone might see things as. No matter how they choose to make money off Instagram, someone is going to claim that Instagram is making money off their photos, even if it’s indirectly. They wanted to draft a document that covered that.

    Do you post images to Facebook? They’ve got the same wording in their TOS.

  • Facebook doesn’t need a similar adjustment since their TOS already includes stuff like this: “you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License).”

  • Farids

    How about the rest of the users personal information? There’s so much more to what Instagram may be selling to others.

  • Skin Blues

    “To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos.” And also to be clear, they do not plan on removing the language from their TOS which allows them to sell your photos. As most people know, especially lawyers, intentions are meaningless, it’s what’s written in black and white that matters.