Instagram’s Policy Fumble Sparks a Class Action Lawsuit


After Instagram backpedaled and removed some of the more controversial language in their new privacy policy agreement, it seemed the worst was over for the Facebook-owned company. The service has surely taken a hit, but when you have over 100M users, you can probably withstand quite a few. But in the words of Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over till it’s over,” and if Instagram user Lucy Funes and San Diego-based law firm Finkelstein & Krinsk have anything to say about it: it ain’t over. Those two parties have launched a class action lawsuit against the popular photo-sharing service.

After looking over the revised version of Instagram’s proposed policy changes, Ms. Fumes has decided that there are still several sections she’s less than satisfied with, and has enlisted the help of Finkelstein & Krinsk to make sure they don’t go into effect.


The specific portions that have been called into question are, ironically enough, fairly common on other social networking platforms. The basis of the argument is centered around three statements.

The first grants Instagram sublicensing rights, essentially letting advertisers pay Instagram to display your content as part of sponsored posts within the app (YouTube, Facebook and Flickr have already claimed this right). The second states that Instagram “may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.” And the third eliminates the option of class action law suits, forcing any complaints to move directly to arbitration.


If all of the legal speak is still a bit too confusing for you, the TL;DR version goes something like this: Instagram can now let advertisers pay them to sponsor your posts within Instagram, without necessarily telling you the post is sponsored/from an advertiser, and if that pisses you off you’re not allowed to file a class action law suit about it.

Apparently Facebook’s not worried. In a statement given to Slate yesterday, a Facebook spokesman said that “We believe this complaint is without merit and we will fight it vigorously.” So stay tuned and we’ll do our best to keep you updated. Best case scenario, Instagram users get to keep the rights they’ve enjoyed since Instagram’s creation; worst case, Instagram’s privacy policy stats looking suspiciously similar to every other social networking/sharing site.

(via Slate and Reuters)

Image credit: Photo illustration created using Gavel & Stryker by KeithBurtis, Why You Shouldn’t Freakout Over Instagram’s Latest Policy Change by

  • michaelp42

    If you don’t agree to the terms then don’t use the service? Simples?

  • Jamie Brightmore


  • Jamie Brightmore


  • Bryan

    Being on a social networking site isn’t a right… They are all owned by somebody and are all businesses. They can make whatever terms they want and you can either agree and use the service, or disagree and walk away. They could all charge for membership if they wanted, but they don’t… They rely on the sponsors and advertisers for their dollars. This is ridiculous. If you don’t like the terms, then stop using the free service.

  • RSVP

    Why do Americans love to sue people for any reason? Guess what geniuses, Instagram is free! They don’t owe you any charity. If you don’t like what they propose, cease using the service.

  • Paul Q ™

    I love the bootlicker stance, its akin to “if you dont love this country then leave”. How about if you use my pic you pay me. Its that “simples”.

  • Sterling

    They’d never have your pic if you didn’t choose to use their free service. It’s nothing akin to leaving a country. It’s a corporation offering a service. If you don’t like their terms, you don’t use them. Everything’s a “right” to some people.

  • Ken

    I’m pretty sure that Instagram, like every other major site with lawyer-generated “terms,” has a section that says they can change the terms for any reason and at any time. Then again, I guess these folks can sue to get their money back. Oh, wait…

  • Albi Kl

    How about if you use their service you pay them. Simple.

    This method of paying them has the added benefit that not a single cent ever leaves your bank account.

  • bob cooley

    Agreed. And to litigate about something that hasn’t caused you a loss is frivolous.

  • val escobar

    I for one do not place my photos or subscribe to a media that takes my personal property and gain from it without my knowledge. Glad to see so may of you willing to give up that right.
    Perhaps she has been using Instagrabing a lot, and doesn’t feel like she she should have to now give up her privacy even more, just because FB need more money. With as much money they are profiting from peoples property, they should minimally tell you better yet compensate you.
    As far as suing, its good to see somebody standing up to all this nonsense.
    Giving up your intellectual doesnt seem to cause much of a stir among PPreaders

  • val escobar

    While they get mega rich for your hard?? work.

  • val escobar

    like owning a gun???

  • Albi Kl

    The service can not exist if it does not make money. Your works will never appear outside of sponsored advertisements within the Instagram ecosystem. You will always retain the full creative the rights to your works to sell or licence them as if you had never uploaded them to the service.

    This will have zero net effect on you or your works. It will however allow the service we all love to use for free to remain free.

  • viki reed

    I’d watch out for Pixoto, google + and google earth, and certainly Pinterest too in that case. Every photo sharing and social networking site/group/company is aiming to take your life, photos, comments, interests and convert them into free content. First people paid for everything net related, as if we were talking about real business and publications, then the bubble and then people were throwing themselves on the tracks to work for free, then people tried to figure out the real way to make money on the net and it always comes down to advertising but you can’t get eyes on pages without content and it’s expensive to pay for it . So like a crack dealer giving your your first rocks free…we get hooked on the high of posting and sharing and peeking and gossiping and more. If you think that your photos won’t be used just because the letter of policy says so you’re wrong. Take a look at the case of Shana Rae, who creates and sells Florabella Actions and textures…she posted a personal shot of her family on her blog (the family picking out a Christmas Tree at a lot) and someone who’s hired to create sales pages for those local ad books that you get buried in all year and are jammed into your mailbox….those regional marketing ad books…this salesperson stole that shot from google (she says). She forged a release form and supplied it as part of the paperwork she provided to the regional Xmas Tree seller who hired that lady’s company to advertise their services. When Shana Rae was alerted, the local retailer provided her withe fake papers, name and contact info for the thief and then she tracked down the fraudster. THat woman pretended that she found the image on a google search and didn’t know that it wasn’t okay to use. Probably because Google images likely got paid for use of the photo or because google earth adn google plus and fb and pinterest do not allow right click protection , you are pretty much up for sale and people could be selling yoru shots without you knowing and having no recourse. Instagram. Instagram had to fall in line with FB policy so that’s why it’s getting attention now. PHotographers far and wide are having their work nicked re-posted like wildfire from Pinterest, who doesn’t want to support the rights of photographers because then they’d have to PAY for the content that comprises %100 of their site.

  • suǝddıʃıɥԀ ǝʞıW

    So typical American… And so dumb of people to be even surprised about the TOS in the first place. Do they really think somebody to start such a service for the greater good of mankind? It’s free, so your pictures are the product they ultimately want to make money with.
    I don’t understand the fuzz. It’s just a snap. And if you want youre photo’s to be yours and remain yours, don’t put them on a FREE SHARING SERVICE for crying out loud! Keep ‘m to yourself or put them on a site where you pay for storing your photos.

    And if you don’t like a service, quit and don’t whine. Vote with your wallet is an American sayint isn’t it? Oh wait…it was free…how stupid of me…

  • Sterling

    Yes, some people think owning a gun is a right. But I doubt many think it is their right to use someone else’s gun range for free and then complain about the rules.

  • Swade

    Some people “think” owning a gun is a right? I believe the second amendment clearly points out that owning a gun is very much a right. Sounds like some people need to brush up on American history and past gun laws.

  • Sterling

    And some other people need to understand that there’s a big world outside of the United States and that many from elsewhere post on this blog.