Instagram Mutes Ads Talk

Photo-sharing service updates policy changes amid uproar

While most users have come to accept Facebook running ads featuring their faces, names and/or comments, many were in an uproar earlier this week when the company's photo-sharing service Instagram proposed policy updates that would open it up to operate a similar ads business. Users grew so vociferous that Instagram is now backtracking on its plans—for now.

“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,” Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom wrote in a blog post Thursday night.

For those so worried about the world ending that they didn’t get swept into the world-ending paranoia around a social network setting up a revenue stream—The Verge threw some serious cold water on the situation, as did Systrom. Here are the ad-related changes Instagram had proposed that pissed people off:

“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.”

Users took major umbrage with various parts of the changes, particularly the idea of advertisers using their photos and not compensating them to do so. Of course Facebook doesn’t cut users some coin when a brand runs a Sponsored Story promoting a friend’s comment on their Facebook Page. There was also concern about Instagram saying it may not always denote when an ad is an ad, which seems to go against Facebook’s sponsorship strategy as well as other social networks like Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare. Regardless, here’s the updated ads-related language (full document here):

“Some of the Service is supported by advertising revenue and may display advertisements and promotions, and you hereby agree that Instagram may place such advertising and promotions on the Service or on, about, or in conjunction with your Content. The manner, mode and extent of such advertising and promotions are subject to change without specific notice to you.”

The newly proposed updated policy changes will now take effect on January 19, instead of January 16 as was previously pegged.

Instagram’s reverse may delay one revenue strategy, but another monetization possibility remains in play. Along with updating its Terms of Use, earlier this week Instagram proposed changes to its privacy policy that would let it share data with Facebook, among other things. That change is still slated to go into effect on January 16 and could bring in bigger bucks than any filtered-photo banner business.