Instagram clarifies terms of use after users revolt, delete accounts

“Legal documents are easy to misinterpret,” reads a statement rushed out by popular photo-sharing service Instagram this afternoon in an attempt to stem what looks like a huge exodus of users. An update to its terms of service led many to believe that Instagram, which was purchased by Facebook earlier this year, was planning to sell users’ photos to advertisers without their consent, prompting many, including celebrities and media personalities, to threaten to delete their accounts.

Here’s the language that had everyone upset:

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.

That was the word yesterday, anyway. Instagram insists in its statement today that it has no intention of selling anyone’s photos, and content uploaded by users remains their property. In the meantime, as Instagram revises its terms of service, it has offered the following scenario to calm users.

Let’s say a business wanted to promote their account to gain more followers and Instagram was able to feature them in some way. In order to help make a more relevant and useful promotion, it would be helpful to see which of the people you follow also follow this business. In this way, some of the data you produce — like the actions you take (eg, following the account) and your profile photo — might show up if you are following this business.

Will that be enough to draw users back? A campaign to #BoycottInstagram was already in full swing earlier in the day, and many had already deleted their photos, following instructions posted by tech blogs and other media outlets. Just because people post photos of every cup of cappuccino they drink doesn’t mean they don’t take their privacy very seriously.

With an apology extended and the picture a little clearer, will users be lured back? Twitchy will monitor the situation to see what develops.

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