More Terms of Use

Yesterday, I posted about Instagram’s updated Terms of Use and the rage it created around the internet. It wasn’t my intent to complain:

Frankly, I’m not sure why this is surprising to anyone

I do, however, deserve a bit of ridicule for my last statement in the article (more on that later):

I will probably cancel my Instagram account since I do not agree to those terms. I will instead use Flickr Pro. The new app is really good and I can pay for an ad-free experience.

Matt Gemmell aptly summed it today:

Instagram: <decides to sell its customers and their data to advertisers>

Users: <complain about it on _Twitter_>

Specifically, let’s check out Twitter’s Terms of Use:

You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to provide, promote, and improve the Services and to make Content submitted to or through the Services available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use.

Such additional uses by Twitter, or other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter, may be made with no compensation paid to you with respect to the Content that you submit, post, transmit or otherwise make available through the Services.

and Privacy Policy:

We may use and store information about your location to provide features of our Services, such as Tweeting with your location, and to improve and customize the Services, for example, with more relevant content like local trends, stories, ads, and suggestions for people to follow.

Translation: Anything you post to Twitter can be used by advertisers, including your location information. You will receive no compensation for their use.

Let’s read Google’s Terms of Use:

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.

and Privacy Policy:

We use the information we collect from all of our services to provide, maintain, protect and improve them, to develop new ones, and to protect Google and our users. We also use this information to offer you tailored content – like giving you more relevant search results and ads.

Translation: Anything you post to Google can be used by advertisers, including your location information. You will receive no compensation for their use.

Similarly, here are Facebook’s Terms of Use:

You can use your privacy settings to limit how your name and profile picture may be associated with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. You give us permission to use your name and profile picture in connection with that content, subject to the limits you place.

We do not give your content or information to advertisers without your consent.

Translation: Assuming your privacy settings allow it, anything you post to Facebook can be used by advertisers, including your location information. You will receive no compensation for their use.

To recap, the new terms from Instagram are the exact same as those used by Twitter, Google, and Facebook. Perhaps the hangup with the Instagram news was their directness (emphasis mine):

you agree that a business or other entity may pay us

The other three companies I referenced don’t describe their relationship with advertisers as clearly as Instagram, but the terms are the same. So if you want to quit Instagram over their new Terms of Use, you should equally want to leave Twitter, Google, or Facebook. Which leads me back to the ridicule I deserve.

I spoke heatedly and without proper consideration of the other services I use when mentioning the possibility of quitting Instagram in favor of Flickr Pro. I do believe Flickr is nice and I love the ad-free environment that is offered. Those are great reasons to quit Instagram. However, by using “I do not agree to those terms” as a reason to quit, I opened myself up to deserved criticism.

After a day of reflection, I realize I am no more likely to quit Instagram than I am Twitter. So while I was clear that such policies are not surprising, I wasn’t clear how I approached them. My apologies.

The main point stands: When you pay for something, that something is the product. When you don’t pay for something, you are the product.

The question is, are you willing to be the product?