Expert Advice

Instagram's New Terms of Service – What You Need To Know

Kelly Ehlers | January 3, 2013 | 1:07 PM

Are you using Instagram for you salon or personal brand? If so, I’m sure you’ve heard of the recent controversy surrounding their new Terms of Service (TOS) and Privacy Policy. It’s true, not many people actually bother reading the lengthy legal statements  – but this particular update to the apps terms was one that garnered much attention.

The language in the new terms, which go in to effect on January 16th, are pretty straightforward, they state that your photographs and associated information (like location data) can be promoted by companies without anyone notifying you about the transaction. The black and white statement reads as follows:

To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.

Instagram's co-founder, Kevin Systrom, has since released a statement apologizing for the 'confusion.' The above sentence has been removed for the new Terms of Service document. Systrom's apology included a promise that Instagram users do own their own images and an explanation on what that particular sentence was 'supposed' to mean.

Before you get too upset about the new terms, keep in mind that Instagram has always had the ability to copy your photos. (Remember the snoozefestlegalease you agreed to when you set up your account?) These new terms actually make things clearer – and more importantly – more limited. In fact, Instagram has clarified, noting they cannot sell your photos to anyone, or change them in any way, for example. The terms you agreed to simply do not permit this – which is a good thing for our industry!

So, what CAN Instagram do?

"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." Systrom wrote.

Meaning that Instagram will come back to us with specific demands on what they want and why.

All in all, the new terms are part of Instagram's new collaboration with Facebook (which acquired the service earlier this year) and are geared toward building better experiences for users. I’ll be sure to loop back to all of you after the new changes kick in and share an update. 


As always, feel free to contact me at: [email protected] with any questions or comments.

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Style Sync is an on-line social media training, personal branding and business education platform designed specifically for salon owners and stylists to help them magnify their image and multiply their results.

Style Sync, a division of Evoke Brand Strategies, is an on-line, subscription based social media training, personal branding and business education platform designed to help individual stylists and salon owners turn social media prowess into more clients and more money for your salon.


At Evoke Brand Strategies we develop digital, social and mobile strategies for salon professional, beauty, hospitality and entertainment brands. As branding and public relations veterans, yet early adopters of all things digital, we understand the importance of creating measurable, buzz-worthy campaigns that generate bottom-line results.

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