Instagram did a very stupid thing yesterday when it updated its Terms of Agreement in a fashion that made people think that the photo app was going to sell its content to companies to use in advertisements. This (almost certainly) is not going to happen, but Instagram learned a valuable lesson about the specificity of legal language. Due to the intense blowback on the Internet today, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom (pictured above at some tech conference) posted a blog post that tries to clear up much of the confusion.
Does he? Not really. Systrom is explicit in what Instagram won't do:
Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we'd like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.
Of course, he's not explicit in what Instagram will do. Are you guys excited to be the subjects of "experimental" advertising? Being a lab rat never sounded so depressing (unless, of course, you're an actual lab rat). (If you are an actual lab rat: RUN!) Does this corporate word-gumbo help clear things up for you? (Hint: It doesn't.)
To provide context, we envision a future where both users and brands alike may promote their photos & accounts to increase engagement and to build a more meaningful following.
Instagram is playing dumb now about its vague, "misinterpreted" language, but that was the point all along — being as unspecific as possible means that their advertisement possibilites are endless. Unfortunately for them, they got caught with their dicks out this time. But they don't plan to be any more concrete, and furthermore they want you to believe that this is all just a fun, new adventure for everyone. Who knows what crazy advertising they may come up with!?!?
So, yes, Instagram learned a lesson today about the type of legal language that allows for as many loopholes as possible. But hopefully, so did we. It's not going to get anymore transparent from here.
[via Instagram, image via Getty]