Abort: Instagram Restores Key Section of Terms Back to 2010 Version


Instagram has had its share of ups and downs during its 2 short years of life, but we think we can safely say that this past week has been the lowest of lows for the popular-but-beleaguered photo sharing service. After hastily pushing out major edits to its terms of service in preparation for money-making plans, users complained, the media pounced, and Instagram backtracked, saying it would revise the terms to appease its users.

Those revisions happened today. Instagram founder Kevin Systrom has announced that key sections of the service’s terms have been rolled back to its original 2010 condition.

Instagram founder Kevin Systrom is apologizing for how his service handled its recent policy update

Instagram founder Kevin Systrom (on left) is apologizing for how his service handled its recent policy update

In a post published to the company blog, titled “Updated Terms of Service Based on Your Feedback,” Systrom apologizes for failing to communicate intentions clearly and states that he is focused on righting the wrong:

The concerns we heard about from you the most focused on advertising, and what our changes might mean for you and your photos. There was confusion and real concern about what our possible advertising products could look like and how they would work.

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. You can see the updated terms here.

You also had deep concerns about whether under our new terms, Instagram had any plans to sell your content. I want to be really clear: Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don’t own your photos – you do.

Systrom also states that the company has learned a lesson from this experience, and will handle these changes much differently in the future:

Going forward, rather than obtain permission from you to introduce possible advertising products we have not yet developed, we are going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work.

You can read the revised updated terms that will go into effect on January 19, 2013 here.


It remains to be seen whether Instagram can stop the exodus that appears to be happening among its users. When news of the changes started spreading, the National Geographic suspended its account, citing concern over the direction Instagram was heading.

Instagram’s most followed user, Kim Kardashian (@KimKardashian with over 5.7 million followers), is reportedly considering shutting down her account:


Flickr appears to be one of the alternatives that Instagrammers are fleeing to. A new web app called Freethephotos has popped up for anyone wishing to transfer their Instagram photo collection over to Flickr with one click.

It would probably be wise for Systrom and Facebook’s management to temporarily hold off on their dreams of milking Instagram for money — at least until the bad taste leaves the mouths of disgruntled Instagrammers who are deciding to stick with the service.

Image credits: undo by voxtheory and Instagram founders @Kevin @mikeyk by Robert Scoble

  • Nick

    Except that in reality, nothing changed and if anything users are worse off. Monkeys are fun to watch. This whole fiasco was way over blown. Love the media when they see advertising revenue potential. JUMP ON THAT AND REPORT ON OPINIONS!

  • Roberto Inetti

    TLDR: We’re only sorry we got caught. Signed/PR team.

  • Nathan Blaney

    That Nat Geo thing is hilarious because EVERY SINGLE CONTEST they run is an image harvesting, rights-grabbing fraudfest. What a bunch of hypocrites.

  • Dan Howard

    too late instagram, I already kicked you to the curb.

  • Saodade

    In my case too, too little too late. I’m actually hesitating in sueing you for the moral damage and stress I experienced for having to stop and take back all my pics from the account in so many time while I had other imoportant things to do…Ponder…

  • Saodade

    it is just a way to make people protect their stuff so one day nothing will be free on the web. Cause the free things remind people we can also exange items and not just sell everything . So they can sell everything and say people hey it is for your own good!

  • David Tribby

    I could care less what millionaire sleaze Kim Kardashian thinks… Why in the world was that included in the post. How about a screen grab from a know photographer if anything…

  • Samcornwell

    Facebook can update their TOS whenever they like and not lose membership. Why? Because there’s only one Facebook. Instagram thought they could do this, but it turns out, there’s plenty of other photo-sharing, image-filtering, social-based websites and apps.

  • G

    The damage’s already done. They’ve shown us where they want to go with Instagram and I (and many others) don’t want to go there with them.

  • Joshua Morin

    What’s Instagram?

  • G

    1) Instaport: (almost) one click to download it all
    2) Log into Instragram and delete your account

    Not exactly much work and emotional stress is it?

  • brob

    Who’s Kim Kardashian and why is she famous?

  • Syuaip

    Facebook is a bad influence to Instagram..

  • E

    Haven’t got a clue what she’s famous for, but even I’ve heard of her. She probably has sh*t loads of followers and much more impact than any photographer. BTW, do established/known photographers use Instagram to promote themselves anyway?

  • Julian Trœps

    Why did all the people delete their acc’s now ? The ToS would go into effect on 01/01/13. Until that I could upload thousands of pictures, and Instagram couldn’t sale them. I didn’t delete my account, now I’m happy. Haha. I hope Instagram had learned out of this.

  • whatonearth

    I… you… what? Sense. You make none.

  • Ralph Hightower

    National Geo does have the worst rights grabbing of photo contests.
    What’s surprising is that National Geo participates in Instagram. National Geo in their magazine has stunning photos. Isn’t the purpose of Instagram to make great photos look crappy?