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instagram-privateEvery time a major online service provider makes a change to their of Terms of Service, privacy pundits raise a great hue and cry over how evil corporations ‘steal’ user’s data and make money off them. Even before you know it, all hell breaks loose and the users start ranting and whining about their paranoia. If only everyone took a few minutes to actually read the fine-print before clicking on the Accept button. The latest service to come under the privacy breach radar is Instagram, the billion dollar baby of Facebook.

Instagram recently updated their ToS to

 “You hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, except that you can control who can view certain of your Content and activities on the Service. […]

Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. 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.”

On first glance, it definitely looks like Instagram was hatching an evil plan to sell all your photos and make money from it. This even ‘worried’ parents, who wondered if their kids’ photos would be used in advertisements. Seriously? If you want to keep all your data safe, then do not to upload it anywhere on the Internet! First of all how many people do actually know that there is an option to make photos as ‘Private’ in Instagram. Only followers who are approved by you can view the photos. Even if yous hare the link on any social media site like Facebook or Twitter, even then only the approved users will be able to view it  (Worried parents, please use this option to share your kids photos with just your family and friends and not the Whole Wide World). Kevin Systrom, the CEO of Instagram wrote a blog post to address the concerns of the users; he clearly mentions that Instagram does not intend to sell user photos. He also mentions that even after the ToS come into effect, photos classified as Private will not be used for any advertising purposes.

The basic problem with us is, we have been spoiled to expect ‘free services’ all the time with 100% up-time. But the truth is all these services require a lot of money to operate the data centers, maintain the operations and above all pay the team which build and maintain such wonderful products. The only way for such online service providers to make money is by displaying ads based on our preferences or charge the users for the services. Would you pay? It is not like you upload a picture of yourself on a beach and you end on a Kingfisher Calender the next year (but I guess you will secretly hope so)!

Most of the fear about privacy seem to arise not because of Instagram’s change in policies but because of its parent company Facebook. When Facebook purchased a photo sharing site with no business model for a billion dollars, it was quite evident that they will attempt to monetize it somehow. It was just a matter of time. If you are really worried about privacy then I suggest you close your Facebook account first. Compared to the frivolous options called as Privacy Settings which lets almost anyone see or share you content, at least Instagram is clear about what it intends to do with your photos and it definitely is not as scary as you imagine it to be.

If you are still not convinced about Instagram, then backup your photos to your personal cloud account and delete your account. And keep your phone off the dinner table and enjoy the food for a while.

This article has been reproduced from Sridhar’s blog.



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