The Kim Kardashian Effect: Instagram Backs Down On Policy Change After Celebrity Protests

22 December 2012, 9:58 am EST By Khurram Aziz email: Mobile & Apps

After days of intense backlash from users over changes to its terms of service, Instagram has reverted to its old policy on advertising.

The photo-sharing app's co-founder Kevin Systrom made the announcement on the company blog saying that he was listening to user feedback since Instagram published its updated terms on Monday.

"In the days since, it became clear that we failed to fulfill what I consider one of our most important responsibilities - to communicate our intentions clearly. I am sorry for that, and I am focused on making it right," said Systrom.

Instagram and its parent company Facebook have been busy updating their privacy controls and terms of service after the social network bought the photo sharing app for around $1 billion in April. Facebook has said that it is updating its terms to help integrate its service with Instagram better and introduced its own policy change on Dec. 11.

A week later, Instagram published its new terms of service, due to come into effect on Jan. 16, which would let advertisers display names, likenesses, or photos in ads or sponsored content based on its users data without compensation to them or asking for their permission. Many users across the Internet felt the terms would allow Instagram to sell their photos to advertisers, although the company disputes this claim.

The backlash grew with celebrities, such as LeBron James, threatening to close their accounts in protest. On Thursday, Dec. 20, Kim Kardashian, the most popular user of Instagram with 5.7 million followers was reported to be considering closing down her Instagram account.

Systrom, forced into a corner, now says that Instagram is reverting the advertising section of its new terms to the original version that has been in effect since the service launched in October 2010.

"Going forward, rather than obtain permission from you to introduce possible advertising products we have not yet developed, we are 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," said Systrom. "You also had deep concerns about whether under our new terms, Instagram had any plans to sell your 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."

The new terms of service will now come into effect on Jan. 19, 2013 and can be viewed here.

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