Instagram rolls back controversial new advertising terms

Instagram reverted the advertising section of its new policy to its original version in use since October 2010

Facing user protests, Instagram has reverted the advertising section of its new privacy policy and terms of service to the original version in effect since the company launched its service.

Going forward, rather than obtain permission to introduce possible advertising products it hasn't developed, Instagram is "going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work," the company's co-founder Kevin Systrom said in a blog post late Thursday.

The photo-sharing website, recently acquired by Facebook, published on Monday for public review a new privacy policy and terms of service which would come into effect in January. But it faced a backlash from users who were worried that Instagram would use their photos and other information in advertisements without their permission.

Systrom wrote in a blog post on Tuesday that Instagram has no intention of using photos within advertisements. "We do not have plans for anything like this, and because of that, we're going to remove the language that raised the question."

By Thursday, Instagram said it was reverting the advertising section to the original version in effect since it launched the service in October, 2010. Systrom reiterated in a blog post that the company had no plans to sell user content. "I want to be really clear: Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don't own your photos -- you do," Systrom wrote in a blog post.

The advertising section had drawn criticism from children's rights groups as well, as it required people under 18 years, or under any other applicable age of majority, to represent that at least one of their parents or legal guardians had also agreed to a provision relating to the use of their name, likeness, username, and photos, along with any associated metadata, on their behalf.

Robert C. Fellmeth, founder and executive director of the University of San Diego's Center for Public Interest Law said earlier in the week he wanted that Instagram should seek consent in advance from parents in each case before using information posted online by a child in advertisements. CPIL and Children's Advocacy Institute have made a similar demand in an amicus curiae memorandum in connection with a proposed class settlement with Facebook over its alleged use without prior consent of people's likeness and names in "Sponsored Stories" advertisements.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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