Instagram users slam photo sharing rules

Instagram is facing a backlash as users debate whether to dump the smartphone photo-sharing service due to a rule change giving it a royalty-free, worldwide license to posted images.

Changes to the privacy policy and terms of service at Facebook-owned Instagram taking effect on January 16 include wording that lets people's pictures be used by advertisers at either online venue.

"You hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the content that you post on or through the service," the new terms of service state.

"You agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos, and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you."

Instagram is also drawing criticism for its stance on using usernames, likenesses and photos in business promotions - which its new owner, Facebook, has done for years.

Instagram is also including photo-associated metadata in the content it is handing over to advertisers.

This is information embedded in the picture, such as where it was taken - on iPhones and other mobile devices this is determined through the GPS capabilities - and about the camera used to take the image.

Instagram contended that it is not claiming ownership of people's pictures, just that it can do what it wishes with images.

Twitter and Instagram forums were ablaze with debate regarding whether to delete accounts before the new rules kick in.

"Bye-bye Instagram," tweeted Scott Ninness. "Who in their right mind will use a service that allows your images (to) be sold with no financial remuneration to you?"

"Everybody should continue using Instagram but just take blurry photos of sandwiches," suggested a Twitter user by the screen-name Michele Catalano.

Pink, Mia Farrow and Taraji P Henson are among the stars who are turning their backs on the site. In a post on Twitter on Tuesday morning, Pink writes, "I WILL BE QUITTING INSTAGRAM TODAY. WHAT A BUMMER. YOU SHOULD ALL READ THEIR NEW RULES."

Actress Henson also sent out a warning to her followers, alongside a link to an article detailing the updated conditions.

"If this is true I will have to delete my acct (account). you have until January 16th to do so," she tweeted while Farrow admits she has no problem dumping the photo-enhancement technology, writing, "A small pleasure: deleting my Instagram app."

The service's co-founder, Kevin Systrom, posted on its blog that he would review the feedback from users and in the media to modify specific parts of the new terms of service.

He defended advertising as being an essential part of the business and said that it is not Instagram's intention to sell photos.

Instead, Systrom said, ''we'd like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram''.

He also said that nothing had changed with ownership and privacy - that users still owned their content and could make their profiles private.

Some people "tweeted" in defense of Instagram, arguing that it is a "mega-business" that needs to make money.

Another Twitter user predicted that a handful of Instagram users will abandon the service and "everyone else will stick around."

"Nothing has changed about your photos' ownership or who can see them," Instagram said in a blog post when the policy changes were disclosed on Monday.

"Our updated privacy policy helps Instagram function more easily as part of Facebook by being able to share info between the two groups."

The move that would let advertisers work with people's Instagram pictures comes as the service tries to channel people to its website to view posted images.

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