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Update, Dec. 18, 8:31pm EST: While Instagram has come out with a much-expected status update, which essentially said “OK, chill out, we’d never planned to actually sell your photos, per se, but rather, just pull a Facebook and allow advertisers to promote their products next to (or using) your specific photos,” (or something like that, it was rather vague and I’m super-tired,) the advice below stays the same, just like it did ten years ago on Friendster, then on MySpace, then on Facebook, then Twitter, now Instagram, and soon on whatever big social service comes next. End result? No matter what the TOS of any service may or may not say, there’s still only one way to truly protect your data (photos, video, words, whatever) from being used by big companies without your permission, and that one way is still shown below.
Update: Dec. 18, 5:45pm: It’s worth mentioning that I was on the Fox Business Channel just a few minutes ago talking about this, and they also had an attorney giving his comments. Worth a watch if you’re interested at all in the legal ramifications of what Instagram is doing.
With the earth-shattering news that Instagram is going to start selling your photos to stock agencies without giving you anything for it, I’d like to give you the one piece of information, the ONLY piece of information you need when it comes to social media sites and what content you actually “own.”
Ready? You can copy this, paste it, share it with your children, employees, or friends. Here it is: This is important. Ready?
If you are using a free service like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, and have clicked “yes” to their terms of service, then you have absolutely no rights to complain about anything they ever do with the content you post on their service. If the service changes their terms and you don’t like it, delete your account from that service.
Don’t want a social media site to do whatever they want with your content? Don’t post your content on a social media site.
That’s it. I hope this clarifies the process for you. Thank you for reading.