Instagram’s changes stir up social media pot

The changes allow the social media site to share any self-uploaded photos with advertisers without the approval of or notification to users.

Advertisers, however, must be in the same group as Instagram or one of its affiliates.
In addition to pictures, Instagram is allowed to share information such as cookies and location data. These allowances will enable future advertising to cater to an individual’s interests, Instagram said in a press release.

“Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram,” Co-founder Kevin Systrom said on the Instagram website.

Instagram isn’t the only company using user-provided content. Instagram users may search, view and use one another’s pictures or information.

“The biggest problems are initially for the users,” Maurer School of Law professor Fred Cate said. “You have two sets of issues. One is a privacy issue, doing things with your data you don’t want done with them. The other is an economic issue, which is, are they going to be making a profit off of your data and then say that you don’t have a share in that profit at all?”

IU Social Media Strategist Thom Atkinson said he believes there aren’t positive changes for users. Yet, the negative changes aren’t as “catastrophic” as they seem.
Last April, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion. With recent changes to Facebook’s terms of service, Atkinson said he believed it was only a matter of time before Instagram changed its policies to coincide with those of Facebook.

“It was almost a carbon copy of the changes that were made in Facebook’s terms of service,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson said he believes social media users shouldn’t be concerned. Instead, they should be conscientious any time they post on the Internet.

“Uploading a photo to Instagram is no more dangerous than uploading a photo to Facebook,” Atkinson said.

Some users said they aren’t bothered by the changes.

Freshman Adriana Rivera said she is aware of the new changes, yet she won’t let that stop her from using the app.

“In a way, it does feel like a violation of my privacy, but I wouldn’t expect to see one of my pictures floating around on the Internet,” Rivera said. “I don’t see how I could be used relevantly.”

Atkinson said no lawsuit has been filed about Instagram’s terms of service and privacy policy, but he is interested to see how a judge would rule in a case like that.

“Nobody reads them, and everybody knows that nobody reads them,” he said. “That fact alone puts the legally binding nature of these documents into question. It will be interesting to see how a judge would rule on how binding these contracts actually are, considering it’s universally recognized that we all agree to them, and we all ignore them.”

Cate said social media users must be aware that, once something is uploaded to the Internet, it is fair game for any fellow media user.

“It’s just a reminder that, when you post your data to Instagram, they’re going to own it,” Cate said. “They can do what they want with it.”

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