Instagram’s new terms of service and privacy policies went into effect today and if you didn’t read them I’ll just inform you that if you’ve already browsed your friends photos from in bed this saturday morning, taken a shot of the bird singing outside your window, or commented back on that billionth photo of that person you sort of knows child about how cute they are, well, you’ve already agreed to the new contract.
I’m not an Instagram hater by any means. I’ve been using it for well over a year and a half, which I think you’ll all admit is pretty much the dinosaur times of this beloved photo sharing site. Photos appeal to me way more than Facebook updates. I like to see what my nephews are doing or what crazy costume my friends son is wearing today. I like to be jealous of the beach vacations of my friends while they’re still on them and I won’t lie, I loved getting those hearts beside my pictures. Sure, it was the same 14 people every day (you know who you are and I LOVE you!) but they felt special beside every. single. picture.
Over the past 6 months or so, my husband and I have been discussing some of the downfalls of Instagram. When we really start using any sort of online service a lot we tend to try and explore its every facet, glitch, and setting. One sunny september day we sat out on our back porch, each with phone in hand, and decided to put Instagram to the test. We found a loophole that we were less than thrilled with.
First, my photos are “private”. This means that people have to ask to be allowed to ‘follow’ me. However, even though my photos are private, any of the people who ‘follow’ me can do anything they want with my photos. One click of a button and they have the option to foward, share, upload to Facebook or twitter. We know this because we tested it. Sure enough, 2 clicks later one of my private photos was up on my husbands facebook page without me having to allow anything.
I reconciled this within myself by keeping my instagram circle extremely small. Like, less than 40 people. Family and friends that I actually KNOW and not just kinda, sorta know, were who made up my followers and I felt completely comfortable that not one of them would do any sort shenanigans with my photos that I wouldn’t want them to. Nor, did I think any of them truly cared enough to do so. I assure you my photos aren’t all that. (another starbucks cup, anyone?)
What truly made my decision to leave instagram was I wasn’t happy with myself because I had gotten careless and forgotten just a few things. Reading through the new terms of service and privacy statements that Instagram put out just reminded me why I hadn’t done certain things in the past (post many photos of my children, where we are, what school they attend etc.) and how I had completely let these personal guidelines go out the window with Instagram. I’m not even sure why.
First off, I know that anything that I put out on the internet can never be reclaimed. One second on the internet and you have lost hold of it. Sure, you may delete a photo or a comment but the rate at which things are re-posted, shared, pinned and tweeted means that you can never truly remove it from the interwebs.
- “if you remove information that you posted to the Service, copies may remain viewable in cached and archived pages of the Service, or if other Users or third parties using the Instagram API have copied or saved that information.”
I’ve always known this and operated by it but for some reason Instagram felt like it wasn’t online. It felt safer, somehow, and like it was just stored there in my phone and I was sharing it intimately with my friends. Simple fact is, that’s not true and I was operating as though it was.
Secondly, I use Instagram to pretty much only show off photos of my kids. At the beach, in the snow, making weird faces or gang signs, sleeping snuggly in their beds, playing with the dog, having family movie night, game night, anything night. I uploaded hilarious photos of them wearing 3D glasses sans lenses with a ponytail on top of their heads. Did I mention they’re all boys? Yeah.
Again, I was operating as though these were private and I should have known better. Now I assure you I’m not arrogant enough to believe that Instagram is going to use my photos in their advertising. I know that they’re not going to look upon my beautiful children, out of the bazillion photos of other peoples beautiful children, and think, “Yes! These are the ones! Let’s use them in all of our advertising!” I just don’t like that they can. If they want to. Even though my photos are private. Kind of changes the meaning of the word private, no?
“Some of the Service is supported by advertising revenue and may display advertisements and promotions, and you hereby agree that Instagram may place such advertising and promotions on the Service or on, about, or in conjunction with your Content. The manner, mode and extent of such advertising and promotions are subject to change without specific notice to you.”
and my personal favorite:
“Any Content will be non-confidential and non-proprietary and we will not be liable for any use or disclosure of Content.”
Put all of these terms together with photos that document the every day life of my children and I’m a tad uneasy. Sure I’m a bit of a mama-bear when it comes to protecting them but I’m okay with that. I also surmise that out of the gazillion photos of children posted on Facebook (like, every child ever born in North America in 2012) that one of these will be in politics one day, or have their face grace the big-screen or be tangled up in some sort of mess and have to go into a witness protection program and I dare say that the photos of them all over Instagram are not going to be of much help to them.
Too dramatic? Maybe.
What’s not as dramatic is that no one else is going to watch out for our littles and so we must. I’ve learned to follow my gut, my heart, my mind in these things and to have faith in the decisions that I make as a parent. So, I’m going with my gut on this one and last night at 11:53, just seven minutes before the terms went into effect, I deleted it all! How’s that for dramatic?!
**if you feel like reading the new terms of service broken down into plain english, this post does a phenomenal job! My two favourites on there?
• Instagram can change Instagram however it wants, whenever it wants, cause they like own it
• even if you delete, deactivate, or terminate your account, your stuff might still live on Instagram like a zombie