The changes, which will go into effect Jan. 16, will not apply to pictures shared before that date.
Facebook and Instagram have both hinted at plans to incorporate advertisements into Instagram’s application, although they have declined to provide details about how and when ads would be deployed. These freshly drafted terms give the first glimpse of what the companies might have planned. Here’s a quick rundown of what the new terms, the most significant changes in Instagram’s short history, could mean for users.
1. Instagram can share information about its users with Facebook, its parent company, as well as outside affiliates and advertisers.
2. You could star in an advertisement — without your knowledge.
A section of the new terms of service, titled “Rights,” notes that Instagram will also be able to use your photographs and identity in advertisements. “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 new terms say. This means that photographs uploaded to Instagram could end up in an advertisement on the service or on Facebook. In addition, someone who doesn’t use Instagram could end up in an advertisement if they have their photograph snapped and shared on the service by a friend. Facebookalready runs ads that make use of people’s activity on its site.
Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group in Washington, said that the use of a person’s likeness in ads could run into some state laws protecting people’s privacy.
“Most states have laws that limit the use of a person’s ‘name or likeness’ for commercial purposes without consent,” Mr. Rotenberg said. “The legal purpose is to allow people to obtain the commercial value of their images and endorsements, which is a big issue for celebrities and others, but also a reasonable concern for Facebook users whose images are used by Facebook to encourage friends to buy products and services.”
3. Underage users are not exempt.
Athough Instagram says people must be at least 13 years old to sign up for the service, the new terms note that if a teenager signs up, they are agreeing that a parent or guardian is aware that their image, username and photos can also be used in ads.
4. Ads may not be labeled as ads.
In another section of the updated terms, the company says ads will not necessarily be labeled as ads. “You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such,” the company wrote.
5. Want to opt out? Delete your account.
Instagram addressed the changes on its company blog, saying that “nothing has changed about your photos’ ownership or who can see them.” In its blog post, Instagram said the changes would primarily help the company combat spam, which has plagued the application as it has swelled in popularity.
“Our updated terms of service help protect you, and prevent spam and abuse as we grow,” the company wrote.