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Instagram Privacy Hysteria Offers Teachable Moments

The Verge’s Nilay Patel digs deeper into the recently-announced policy change that has Instagram users riled up. The reaction reveals that both have something to learn about each other.

What’s the Latest Development?

In response to the outcry surrounding the news that Instagram, the popular photo-sharing site recently acquired by Facebook, was going to institute a policy giving it permission to share user photos without notification or compensation, writer Nilay Patel takes a closer look at what the policy actually says. According to him, Instagram can’t sell user photos to anyone, but at the same time it does have permission to display those photos and to receive payment from an advertiser to display those photos, so long as the photos are not modified into something new. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Patel says the existing Instagram terms already allowed them to do all of this, including modification of the photos “but the new [terms] don’t [allow modification] — they actually got better for users in that regard.” The new policy mimics, in a more limited way, Facebook’s policy with regard to “sponsored posts”: Advertisers can pay the company to promote user posts on news feeds. Both companies are doing what they’ve always done — making money off user data — but Patel says that by not doing a better job of explaining the new policy, Instagram “screwed up royally…All startups learn harsh lessons like this sometimes, but Instagram is a startup no longer…[it’s] now part of Facebook.”

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