A little while ago Facebook bought Instagram for a billion dollars. That’s nine zeros. It’s a huge number and a large risk considering Zynga recently paid $200 million for Draw Something, a game which we’ve already forgotten about, despite the constant reminders that there are new colours.

Instagram is one of the most popular apps available. With over 30 million registered users and 5 million photos uploaded per day, it sets the bar for mobile photo sharing.

And then this week, Facebook decided to one-up itself with a tried and true method pulled straight from the handbook of Facebook monetization by – wait for it – changing the privacy policy. Starting January 16th 2013, just three months after its acquisition, Facebook has announced that it can sell users’ photographs without paying or notifying them— a move some users have already coined as Instragram’s suicide note.

From the new Instagram Terms of Service

“Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. 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.”

The majority of us can easily say that most of the Instagrams out there are merely repetitive glimpses of the average person’s boring life, like what they had for lunch. We can even laugh at the thought of your cousin’s crappy photo from their lame-ass staycation being used commercially.

But what does this mean for the photographers, illustrators, creatives and designers of the world who share their own work as well as specific client work on Instagram? You know, the work that was commissioned and paid for by a third party?

If we don’t delete our account by January 16th, 2013 will we see Blackjet’s work proudly displayed by Facebook as their own content for ads? Will we see shots taken by Westside photographers for a national advertisement being used to get more Farmville users? Will exceptional illustrators like Hydro74, who shares his progress and final work on Instagram, be forced to shut down his account in this popular social venue to ensure that his work isn’t used inappropriately?

We’re all curious to see how Facebook responds now that there has been a tremendous public outcry. And while we may be used to Mr. Zuckerberg reversing on his Privacy updates at least we can all stay in the true hipster spirit of Instagram and say “we used it before it was cool and sold out”.


Just over 2 hours after I posted this blog, Instagram has published a post clarifying the privacy policy and announcing that they will be removing and rewording certain verbiage to make this all quite clear.

Ownership Rights

Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. Nothing about this has changed. We respect that there are creative artists and hobbyists alike that pour their heart into creating beautiful photos, and we respect that your photos are your photos. Period.

It’s amazing what enough whining, tweeting, shouting and blogging can accomplish.