Instagram To Begin Using Your Photos For Ads
December 18, 2012

Instagram Announces Terms Of Service Changes

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

One of the big tech stories of the year was the announcement that Facebook would buy Instagram. The popular photo-sharing and photo-filter service was still considered a rising star among the social network and tech set and as Facebook was preparing to go public, they needed all the help they could get. Instagram´s mobile presence and powerful technology was very valuable to Facebook, who also made it clear they only wanted the tech and planned to leave the service as it was.

Of course, anyone who has been watching Facebook for any length of time knows to take their words with a heaping tablespoon of salt.

Last week, Facebook´s vice president of marketing solutions admitted that Facebook would soon be using ads in Instagram to make the unit more profitable.

“We will definitely be figuring out a monetization strategy. When that will happen, I can´t comment, but it´s going to happen,” said Carolyn Everson at the Ignition 2012 conference.

As it turns out, this could be taking place sooner rather than later. Yesterday, Instagram announced some new changes to their terms of service which are set to take place on January 16, 2013. One of the more telling changes in these terms of service deals not only with ads but how Facebook plans to get the information for these ads and how they´ll use them. Essentially, Instagram will collect location info and use it, along with your photos, to generate ads.

And so it begins

The specific wording is as follows: "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 “metadata” is the particularly frightening part about this entire ordeal. When you snap a picture on your phone, much more data than just the actual image is stored. The phone is able to capture the date, time and location of the image, as well as what kind of device was used, which app was used, and even the camera settings.

With access to this information, Facebook and Instagram can create incredibly targeted ads for not just the shooter, but friends of the shooter as well.

Imagine going out to eat at your favorite restaurant. Before you begin eating, you snap a picture of your delicious-looking meal. Instagram could use this information and generate an ad based on your photo, sending it to one of your Instagram followers the next time they happen to be in the vicinity as your favorite restaurant.

The new terms of service go even farther, saying that Instagram will also begin sharing “user content” with Facebook, meaning what you share on Instagram and how you access the service could end up as an ad on Facebook.

"We may share 'User Content' and your information (including but not limited to, information from cookies, log files, device identifiers, location data and usage data) with businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that Instagram is part of..." reads the new terms of service.

Troubling as it may be, this is sadly the nature of the beast. When services are free, such as Facebook and Instagram, they have to find ways to support the network.

After all, whenever you sign up for a free service, you are the product being sold.