While millions of people across the world were preparing for Christmas and undoubtedly filling their Instagram feeds with pictures of carolers, cooking, food, presents and of course Santa Claus, A woman from San Diego, Lucy Funes, and the law firm of Finklestein & Krinsk launched a class action lawsuit against the photo giant.
Instagram quickly found themselves under fire from irate users. Even some of their more infamous users like Kim Kardashian said they would quit using the service. National Geographic had taken down their Instagram feed. All of this stemming from a change in Instagram’s Terms of Service (TOS). You know those long legaleeze pages that you just automatically agree to so that you can start using an app.
In the originally changed TOS Instagram had basically said that they could use your photos for whatever they want without compensation. They also said they may choose to advertise alongside your photos, they didn’t have to tell you and you wouldn’t make any money from it. Of course, whether or not you agree with these terms, no one forces you to use their product. All the while, if you do, you’re making an agreement to abide by their terms.
Nevertheless, Instagram founder and CEO Kevin Systrom went ahead and back pedaled on the parts pertaining to copyright and using a users photos. The language about advertising remained in place.
Funes, most likely started the ball rolling for her class action lawsuit before Systrom apologized and changed the terms of service again, however the suit was filed. The lawsuit says customers who don’t agree with Instagram’s terms can cancel their profile but forfeit the rights to photos they previously shared on the service.
“In short, Instagram declares that ‘possession is nine-tenths of the law and if you don’t like it, you can’t stop us,'” the lawsuit says.
Instagram catapulted to fame over the last few years. They were acquired by Facebook in early 2012 for what was believed to be a cash/stock deal worth $1 billion dollars at the time it was announced. Because of Facebook’s decline in stock valuation the deal is only worth about $715 million dollars now.
With the long holiday weekend it’s hard to tell if Funes will still push forward with the lawsuit since the new TOS language doesn’t lay claim to a users photos the way it previously did. We’ll hopefully find out more shortly.
The holidays are a big time for Instagram. They may see a little downtrend this year partially caused by users unsure of what’s happening with the Terms of Service and also because their sharing via Twitter went through a major overhaul earlier this month.
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