(RNN) – Instagram has just declared to the world that all's fair in love, war and social media.
The popular photo-sharing app rolled out its new user agreement, and reaction from experts as well as users appeared mostly sour.
"Delete your Instagram accounts. A few cheesy (sic) photo filters isn't worth your privacy being sold!" tweeted Cory Niblett, using the trending hashtag "BoycottInstagram."
"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."
Here is the translation of the previous paragraph, just in case you're not fluent in legal jargon or you weren't inclined to finish reading it:
"We can sell your photos for our own benefit, and we don't have to pay you a dime. We're not saying we actually will, but we can if we want to."
But what about photos of small children, you ask? Oh, don't worry. They have that covered, too:
"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."
Basically, if you post photos of your kids, you just signed away their rights, too.
You can sleep comfortably knowing that those pictures of your 5-year-old getting his first taste of seawater can profitably benefit the resort you visited. Consider it your charitable contribution – in addition to all that money for the room – to a slice of vacation paradise struggling to pay its bills.
The policy goes into effect Jan. 16, and the only way to effectively avoid a potential corporate free-for-all on your photos to delete your account before that date. That's because there is no language that protects users' residual photos.
Long story short: Take down your account Jan. 15, and Instagram can't touch your content. Take down your account on Feb. 1, and every photo you ever posted to it can still be used.
Numerous celebrities use the service, and the new changes did not escape their attention, either.
"I will be quitting Instagram today," singer Pink tweeted in all caps. "What a bummer. You should all read their new rules."
The new policy is the work of Facebook, which bought Instagram in April.
The uproar stems mainly from the ambiguity of Facebook's intentions. The company has not said if or how it intends to use a broad-reaching range of rights to intellectual property.
"It's asking people to agree to unspecified future commercial use of their photos," says Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in an interview with CNet. "That makes it challenging for someone to give informed consent to that deal."
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