Instagram user information up for grabs

By Cassandra Mason

CEO and co-founder of Instagram Kevin Systrom. Photo /AFP
CEO and co-founder of Instagram Kevin Systrom. Photo /AFP

A new change to Instagram policy is putting user information up for sale in a move that will no doubt cause some controversy.

The new terms of service and privacy policy, in place as of January 16, are similar in nature to recent changes to Facebook.

"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," the terms of service reads.

In other words, Instagram can sell your pictures, username and records of everything you've liked, shared or responded to another company without paying you a cent.

The part about "associated metadata" - or locations data - means that if, for example, you took a picture of the Auckland Skytower, Instagram could use that the photo in an advertisement for the Skytower that would be seen by your friends.

Facebook made a similar move not long ago but unlike Instagram, it gave people some control over how their names and photos were used for commercial content. This could be done through the adjustment of privacy settings not available on the photo-sharing service.

Another section points out that Instagram "may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such", a direction which seems to be causing a stir.

The new privacy policy has also followed Facebook's lead by sharing its cookie data with third-party advertising partners.

"We may share User Content and your information (including but not limited to, information from cookies, log files, device identifiers, location data, and usage data) with businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that Instagram is part of," it reads.

The crux being that Instagram has the right to do whatever it wants with your information, with whomever it wants.

Instagram users have already been reacting to the changes on Twitter.

The New York Times' Nick Bilton wrote: "I'm surprised Section 4 doesn't say: And we reserve the rights to your first born child."

Paul Kedrosky responded: "Apparently Zuck's [Mark Zuckerberg] privacy tone-deafness is communicable."

- nzherald.co.nz

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