Facebook’s Instagram Changes May Exploit Teens’ Content

Facebook Inc. (FB)’s Instagram policy changes, announced yesterday, may let advertisers use teenagers’ photos for marketing, raising privacy and security concerns, said Jeffrey Chester, executive director for the Center for Digital Democracy.

The new policies, which now apply to users as young as 13, enable Instagram, a photo-sharing service that Facebook bought in August, to use members’ names, text, photos and other content with marketing messages, the company said on its site. The new terms of use, set to take effect next month, could be exploitative, Chester said.

Facebook, operator of the world’s largest social network with more than 1 billion users, is changing policies for its Instagram unit as it looks for ways to increase revenue across its services. Instagram, popular with teens and young adults, reached more than 100 million users, Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in September.

Facebook “sees teens as a digital goldmine,” said Chester, whose group is focused on privacy issues. “We will be pressing the Federal Trade Commission to issue policies to protect teen privacy.”

If users are younger than 18, then they “represent” that at least one parent or guardian has also agreed to content being used in marketing, according to the updated usage terms. The changes are aimed at protecting members while preventing abuse, Instagram said in a blog.

General view of Instagram and Facebook logos on a smartphone. Photograph: Press Association via AP Images Close

General view of Instagram and Facebook logos on a smartphone. Photograph: Press Association via AP Images

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General view of Instagram and Facebook logos on a smartphone. Photograph: Press Association via AP Images

In the updated policy document, Instagram also said it may not always identify paid services or sponsored content. The company said it doesn’t claim ownership of any content on the service, though some businesses may pay to display users’ names, likeness or photos in connection with sponsored content.

“Our updated privacy policy helps Instagram function more easily as part of Facebook by being able to share info between the two groups,” the company said. “This means we can do things like fight spam more effectively, detect system and reliability problems more quickly, and build better features for everyone by understanding how Instagram is used.”

Facebook rose 3.6 percent to $27.71 at the close in New York. The stock has lost 27 percent since an initial public offering in May.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net

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