Facebook-owned Instagram has apparently lost almost a quarter of its daily users thanks to the back-and-forth about the changes in its Terms of Services, Reuters reported. Online tracker AppData revealed that the number of daily active users who accessed the service through Facebook dropped to 12.4 million as of Friday, compared to a peak of 16.4 million last week.
The photo sharing app has been embroiled in a controversy post its flip-flop on changes to its ToS. Instagram had decided to change its Terms and Privacy Policies to be effective from January 2013. However, the updated terms of service seemed to state that Instagram could sell user-generated images and use them in advertisements as and when they pleased.
Is Instagram losing users?
Enraged, a lot of Instagram users quit the platform almost instantly. Wildlife magazine National Geographic too put its foot down and refused to post its images until Instagram rolled its ToS back. NatGeo put up an image on its official Instagram account that read, “We are very concerned with the direction of the proposed new terms service and if they remain as presented we may close our account.” The image received positive feedback with over 40,000 ‘loves’ and 3,000 comments.
Predictably, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom went into damage control mode almost as soon as the backlash began. He wrote a post on Instagram’s website apologising for the ‘confusion’ that was caused due to language issues and even backpeddaled to the original ToS in effect since 2010.
Systrom asserted that Instagram had no intentions of selling user-generated content or allowing photos to be used in advertisements. “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,” he wrote.
Systrom even tried explaining how he hoped the advertising model might work. He said Instagram is a business dependent on revenue; advertising is one way of generating revenue but not the only way. “Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation.”
Unfortunately, the explanations did not have any effect on the annoyed users, who kept dropping out of the website by the dozens; the latest AppData report seems to mirror this sentiment.
Facebook countered the findings which were compiled from users that have linked the photo service to their own Facebook accounts. These constitute only between 20 and 30 percent of Instagram members.
“This data is inaccurate. We continue to see strong and steady growth in both registered and active users of Instagram,” said a Facebook spokesperson to Reuters. While the daily number of Instagram users seems to be dropping, the monthly number of users has seen an upward trend. The monthly users were up to 43.6 million as of Friday, an increase of 1.7 million over the past seven days, according to AppData.