The popular photo-sharing app, which was recently acquired Facebook, said in its new policy that it has the option to license users' photos and sell them to advertisers or other companies.
The changes have a lot of users complaining and threatening to stop using the Instagram service. Twitter lit up with Instagram complaints and jokes.
"That's it! I'm raising my middle finger in each photo I take with Instagram, let's see how they're gonna sell that! #BoycottInstagram," tweeted @MenHumor.
@iamBenLyons tweeted, "Bye Bye Instagram. We hardly knew you. What's next?" while @everywhereist tweeted, "Oh no! That sepia toned photo of last week's sushi dinner has fallen into the wrong hands!"
Instagram did not respond to a request for comment.
Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said Instagram's policy change is causing a big enough flap to create a problem for the company.
"I hope this really is a user revolt," he said. "It is pretty revolting, but Facebook has gotten away with serial violations of privacy in the past. But maybe selling your photographs is a bridge too far."
He added that this has become a big issue because it deals with users' property rights, rather than privacy rights.
"'I'm afraid most Facebook users don't care much about privacy, but apparently, they care about property," he noted. "I like this because it reminds people that their content has value."
Facebook, which now owns Instagram, certainly has seen its share of privacy flaps. Users repeatedly have threatened to stop using Facebook over one privacy issue or another but the company still remains the largest social network in the world, by far.
Will these user complaints actually cause real trouble for Instagram? Gottheil said they might.
Noting that the pictures might not carry much value, Instagram may not want to fight this out with its users.
Instagram's policy changes are set to go into effect Jan. 16.
Read more about social media in Computerworld's Social Media Topic Center.
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