Are we really all that surprised to see Instagram finally take its very first steps toward monetization? Come on now. This is a startup that was acquired by Facebook. We knew some of this stuff would be coming. After all, this is a business. Money is involved.
The popular photo sharing app updated its terms of service agreement on Monday, which will go into effect on January 16, 2013. It's been made clear that you will still be the owner of all of your photos, however, by continuing to use Instagram you enter an agreement to allow it (and its parent company, Facebook) to potentially use your photos for commercial purposes without letting you know about it. YOU could essentially become an advertising tool to help sell products or services to other users. Fancy that!
As far as the actual ads go, which are definitely coming to Instagram in the near future, the updated ToS say that ads may or may not be labeled as ads. Not surprisingly, a lot of people are not happy about any of this at all. There are tons of people all over Twitter who are threatening to shut down their accounts. And that's perfectly fine if you really don't want anything to do with it.
You may not like it, but I recommend checking out the NY Times' Bits Blog for a breakdown of the main things you need to know about what's coming to Instagram. You can also find Instagram's official page for the updated ToS agreement here.
UPDATE: Now that the entire social web has had time to go absolutely bananas over what Instagram laid out awkwardly in its updated terms, CEO Kevin Systrom offered an explanation in a blog post to clarify what the company is trying to do. He writes, "To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos." This clarification should help calm people down at least a little. Read the whole message on the Instagram blog.
Photo © Instagram/Burbn, Inc.