Your Instagram Picture May Be Used in Ads

12:20 PM, Dec 18, 2012   |    comments
In this photo illustration, the photo-sharing app Instagram fan page is seen on the Facebook website on the Apple Safari web browser on April 9, 2012 in New York City. Facebook Inc. is acquiring photo-sharing app Instagram for approx. $1 billion. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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By Brett Molina, USATODAY

Initially, Instagram's privacy policy update seemed innocent enough: make sharing data with its new owner Facebook easier while fighting spam and other unenjoyable stuff for users.

But new details on its revised Terms of Use suggest Instagram may start pulling user photos and incorporating them into ads -- without pay.

According to the Terms that take effect on January 16, Instagram says that some parts of their photo-sharing service might be supported by advertisers. Sounds straightforward enough until their next statement:

"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."

Translation: Users could find their filtered photos in ads on Instagram, and not see a dime. The new Terms were first spotted by The New York Times.

So, how can they do this? Although Instagram says users still have ownership of their photos, their Terms state by adding a photo to your account, you are giving the service license to use your content.

Reaction to the Terms has not been received well by USA TODAY readers. "I won't use it," says @tonyajpowers via Twitter. "Facebook has ruined Instagram. There are other cool filter apps that I can use on my pics."

"Instagram's new policy is an egregious use of its customers information," adds Twitter follower @Craig_cgc. "I'll be gone."

Since launching in 2010, Instagram has a become a huge hit on smartphones, allowing users to add artistic flair to photos by applying a variety of retro filters, then share them with others. The service hosts more than 30 million registered users that have uploaded more than a billion photos between the Apple iOS and Google Android mobile platforms.

As the New York Times points out, the only way to stop Instagram from using your pics is by killing off your account. However, for those who enjoy a world of filtered mobile pics, there are several alternatives including Hipstamatic and Twitter.

ALTERNATIVES: Done with Instagram? Here are five other options

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