By the Blouin News Technology staff

Instagram privacy: The hype and gripe

by in Personal Tech.

Instagram, the popular mobile photo-sharing application, updated its privacy policy today to include new language describing the company’s ability to share user content with business affiliates and third-party advertising partners – a move that has users up-in-arms.

Users worry their digital photos will be used to support advertising initiatives and even appear in ads themselves without recognition, attribution, or a slice of the profit. This griping is met with the usual opposing argument: “You do not pay for this service, so you have no right to complain about the changes to this service.”

The company  certainly expected such a public reaction as users tend to respond with outrage when social networks alter their privacy policies, expecting their identities have been compromised.

But, when examining media reports of the revised privacy policy, it appears as though a grand hyperbole has been made of legal language that does not explicitly say what the company intends to do inside its new parameters. Reading articles with headlines such as “Instagram Will Basically Sign Your Life Away,” users who have not read the policy itself join the herds of users who take to Twitter with their outrage, outlining the irony of voicing anger at one free social service while using another.

As the media is wont to do, it has aggravated a policy change that could very well end up protecting users instead of violating them. Instagram user complaints of spam have not gone unheard, and the company is technically within its rights to share user content the moment a user clicks “I Agree” to its Terms of Service. Yet most Instagram users are Facebook users, and accustomed to rapidly deployed and difficult-to-comprehend policy changes. Thus, also accustomed to resorting to popular blogs to get a sensational translation.

U.S. laws do not yet possess rules for how to respond when a user with no related business, operating a free and virtual service, claims creative rights over content he or she has written, photographed, or video-taped. Yet, it will continue to be the subject of heated debate as mobile usage adoption globally skyrockets.