December 18th 5 pm Update - Instagram has responded to all of the questions on their blog. They clearly state that private accounts will remain private and that:
"it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. 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."
This is why knee-jerk reactions and deleting accounts in a fit are never the right answer. Thank you Instagram for not ruining a great thing.
This update makes the heart of this post out of date, but parents NEED to be aware of what their kids are doing and where they are doing it.
I'm a big fan of using photography to share my life with others. I take photographs every single day and with the new social tools that are out there I am able to share these with friends,family and followers around the globe.
I've been using Instagram for a long time and love the community I've found there. But, yesterday they decided that money was the most important thing to them and as a parent it means I have to encourage every one of you to NOT allow your children to use it anymore.
Let me be very clear right up front that Instagram is a business and they have to make money to survive. I understand that and have wondered for quite some time which path they'd choose to keep moving forward. They certainly have many options and they must monetize their platform.
But, what they decided is that starting next year, they own the rights to sell any and all of your images to anyone they want. You don't get any say in it or any money for it. After January 16, 2013 any photos on their servers they can do this with as shown in their terms of service. There have been lots of write ups about what this means and this one explains it well.
Now, my daughter and many of her friends love Instagram. They share photos of their outfits, nails, and other slices of life around them. They love it for the same reasons I do.
I allowed this because my daughter has a private account and I have to approve of any new followers. Her phone doesn't have data capabilities, so she can only post from her iPod Touch when on a wireless network so this keeps the chances of inappropriate choices to a minimum.
Tonight, I'm explaining to her that unless Instagram changes their mind (I am going to wait and see if they realize how stupid of a business decision this is) she is going to have to delete her account and I'm encouraging all other parents to have the same discussion.
It is our responsibility as parents to protect our kids. Giving any company full and unchecked access to our children's image is not something we should ever allow.
Personally, I'm not deleting my account yet, but I have updated my profile to share my feelings on the matter. *grin*
If they choose to continue with this, I fully expect that I'll stop using the service because there are other options to share my photography that don't involve me handing over MY rights to something that helps me make a living.
But, from the parenting point of view, this is an easy call.
Our children should NOT be on Instagram with these new terms of service. I hate saying that because I've had a blast watching what my daughter and her friends share. Interacting with them has allowed me to get to know them better than I would have without the tool. I've been able to peek in and keep an eye on my daughters life without being obtrusive and in a manner that we both enjoy.
And to anyone who plays the "but it is free" or "you don't have any privacy already" cards let me stop you there because I understand that. I probably understand it more than you do.
My problem is with granting any company the right to sell my images without my approval. That is the only part of this that gets me angry and why I wrote this.
Parents, as of this moment in time Instagram is not a good place to let your kids have an account. With tons of new phones being given as gifts this year I encourage you not to let them sign up for one. If they have one right now, don't freak out and delete it quite yet, but be aware of what is going on and ready to do so if things don't change.
An aware and active parent is the best kind.