What is your privacy worth to you?

The Instagram service recently announced their changed Terms Of Service, causing a minor outrage among their users, since the new terms seem to allow for Instagram to use the user-supplied photos for advertising outside the Instagram site. Since they also added the right to not mark the advertising as such, they would basically be allowed to sell your photos without your explicit consent, or even knowledge. And without compensation, of course.

Since you are using Instagram, you are surely aware that the service is free of charge, and that it’s the advertisers that pay for the party. As the famous quote says, “If you are not paying for something, you are not the customer, you are the product being sold.” That should not come as a surprise for anyone.

This raises an interesting question. What is it worth to you? You like being able to share photos with your friends, and the Instagram service fits your bill exactly. Do you care if your pictures are being used by other companies in order to make money? Do you care if your pictures are being used in a totally different context, like advertising for online dating services? I can imagine most people don’t care that much, but I can also imagine that it hasn’t really occurred to them that it can happen.

I find it kind of amusing sometimes, that people can post all kinds of private information to a web service like Facebook and then say they care about privacy. However, it is still a matter of trust. They trust Facebook and Instagram that their information will not be used in other contexts than the service itself. I can imagine that most people take this for granted, not even reading the Terms Of Service before signing up.

So it all boils down to this: What is it worth to you? If you don’t mind your photos being used without your consent (and control), go ahead and use the service. But at least give it a thought.

Edit: Here [The Verge] is a less pessimistic analysis of the Instagram TOS. Still creepy, but not as doomsday panicky as others.

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