Instagram uproar sparks legal action

Class action filed against Facebook-owned photo firm despite clarification campaign

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Instagram uproar sparks legal action Clarifying statements by Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom have been insufficient to quell user anger. (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  December 26, 2012

Instagram may face its first class action suit spurred by last week's outrage among users over changes to service terms, despite the company's efforts at clarification, Reuters reported.

The proposed action, filed by a Californian Instagram user in San Francisco federal court last Friday, accuses Facebook Inc's acquired photo-sharing service of breach of contract and other slights.

"We believe this complaint is without merit and we will fight it vigorously," Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in an e-mail.

Last week's announcement by Instagram of altered terms of service led to concerns among users and legal experts that the company would use personal images in advertisements without monetary compensation for the owner.

The new terms, set to come into effect one month after the announcement, will be binding on any user who still has an Instagram account. National Geographic was one of many to announce an intention to close its account if the new terms were not amended.

Some legal commentators floated the theory that since Facebook is currently under scrutiny from the US Federal Trade Commission following an April investigation into "deceptive" behaviour towards users, the social media company was using Instagram as a test balloon for legal boundaries.

As furious online comments continued to build, Instagram founder and CEO Kevin Systrom released a clarifying statement through Instagram's blog, titled "Thank you and we're listening".

"It was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation," Systrom wrote.

"This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear."

Following Systrom's statement was contacted by Facebook's Dubai representative Renno Communications Group, which directed our attention to the blog, saying that it "will clear this issue".

The new terms also force users to forgo the right to join class action suits against Instagram and instead sign up to an arbitration system for the purpose of grievance resolution. Under these conditions a user would only be able to take legal action against the photo-sharing service in extreme circumstances.

Finkelstein & Krinsk, the San Diego-based law firm which filed Friday's action, said users who took the option to cancel their Instagram account before the mid-January deadline would forfeit rights to photos they had 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 court documents read.

2174 days ago

Boycott Facebook etc, that should teach them a lesson

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