Do you use Instagram to keep your customers updated on your business? It’s a great tool that makes posting photos and videos easy. Their business profiles can help you drive engagement for your brand and increase brand awareness. However, despite Instagram’s benefits to businesses and individuals, they released an update to their Terms of Use on December 20, 2020 that has some people worried about their usage of Instagram. Reading through a long list of terms can be really dull, so we’ve compiled some important points in Instagram’s new Terms of Use for you. Here are the most important parts of the Terms update and what they mean for you.

Instagram’s Rights to Your Content

Instagram outlines in their Terms of Use that when you use their service (i.e. upload photos and videos), you grant them a “non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings).” That’s the legalese, but what does it mean in plain English? Essentially, whenever you upload a picture or video to Instagram, they then have a license to use that content however they like. If they really love one of your photos and want to use it in an advertisement, they can do that and they don’t have to pay you anything for the use of that content. This license ends when you delete your account or your photos. However, though they may use your content, they do not claim ownership of it. Even if Instagram uses the license you grant them to create an advertisement using your photo, you still own that photo. 

Restrictions on Usernames

Instagram has specified in its new Terms update that your Instagram username, or “handle”, may not be the same as a domain name or URL. So for example, if your Instagram handle ends with .com, Instagram may flag your account or take it down. Users who have these types of handles should take care to change them as soon as possible. 

Account Disabling

Instagram’s new Terms of Use also include some new rules surrounding account disabling. They state that in order to use Instagram, “[they] must not have previously disabled your account for violation of law or any of our policies.” This means that if you’ve previously had an account disabled for violating any of Instagram’s policies and they find out that you’ve set up a new one, they can disable it and you may be banned from the platform.

Your Likes May Not Be Private

There is a section in Instagram’s Terms of Use update that lays out what they can do when you like or follow sponsored posts or accounts. They state that they can use your name, your profile picture, and information about your likes and follows “next to or in connection with accounts, ads, offers, and other sponsored content that you follow or engage with”. So if you like a sponsored post, it may show up to your friends and tell them that you engaged with that post. 

So What Does All of This Mean?

After reading through all of this, you may still not be clear on what Instagram’s updated policies mean. Essentially, it means that your user experience won’t change in a huge way. Yes, Instagram will have a license to use your content- however, for most of us, that won’t make a difference. Even though Instagram has a license to use your content, the probability of them acting on it is very small.