"Hey there, kid," reads Instagram's new terms of service. "I'm gonna make you a star! Not interested in having your mug plastered across to a bunch of branding you didn't authorize and didn't get paid for? Why, sure you are, doll face! You stick with me and ol' Instagramy will take you places. Just you wait!"
Well, sort of. Yesterday, the popular photo-sharing social network — recently acquired by Facebook — released their most recent (and extra lengthy) terms of service. Hidden amongst the tedious legal language was this important tidbit:
Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata) on your behalf.
So, basically any photo that you upload of your fingernail polish or inner lip tattoo or the Eiffel Tower or whatever can be used by Instagram and their advertisers in whatever context within the site that they see fit. (P.S. I think you'll make a great face for Milk-Faced Moms for Corn Syrup.) Furthermore, they can now slip sponsored content into your feed without alerting you to the fact that it's a paid advertisement.
As of now, Instagram, unlike Facebook, does not display advertisements, though, as implied by the terms of service, that is likely to change soon. In a statement to the LA Times, Instagram wrote, "We are continuing to evaluate when, how, and in what form advertising inside Instagram plays a role in creating value for users and brands alike." Vague, but at the same time crystal clear: ads are coming.
In other news, Instagram, having just severed ties with Twitter (¡qué escándalo!), has announced that it will begin sharing information with Facebook to "allow the two social networks to build better features, fight spam more effectively and discover system issues more quickly." Cut away the PR language and what you have is this — they are watching us and the grid is inescapable. Dammit, Zuckerberg!