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Instagram could sell your photos

6:18 PM, Dec 18, 2012   |    comments
(File photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
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(USA TODAY) -- Photo-sharing service Instagram has generated a stir amongst users after a future update to its Terms of Use suggests it may used uploaded images in ads.

According to the Terms that take effect on January 16, Instagram says that some parts of their service might be supported by advertisers, with sponsored content potentially featuring users' shared photos.

"To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you," reads an excerpt of their updated Terms.

The stipulation even applies to users under 18. The new Terms were first spotted by The New York Times.

Although Instagram says users still have ownership of photos, the service's Terms state that by adding a photo to your account, you are giving the service license to use your content. Users can control what images are posted or deleted, as well as who can view their pictures.

Reaction to the Terms has not been received well by USA TODAY readers. "I won't use it," says @tonyajpowers via Twitter. "Facebook has ruined Instagram. There are other cool filter apps that I can use on my pics."

"Instagram's new policy is an egregious use of its customers information," adds Twitter follower @Craig_cgc. "I'll be gone."

Since launching in 2010, Instagram has a become a huge hit on smartphones, allowing users to add artistic flair to photos by applying a variety of retro filters, then share them with others. The service hosts more than 30 million registered users that have uploaded more than a billion photos between the Apple iOS and Google Android mobile platforms.

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In April, Instagram was scooped up by social networking giant Facebook for $1 billion in an attempt to strengthen its footing on mobile platforms. The privacy policy update by Instagram is one more step by Facebook to potentially cash in on their investment. "The amount of money they spent, they obviously want to get a return on it," says analyst Arvind Bhatia of Sterne Agee. Bhatia predicts Instagram could rake in between $500-$700 million in advertising revenue in the next three years.

As the New York Times points out, the only way to stop Instagram from using your pics is by killing off your account. However, for those who enjoy a social world of filtered mobile pics, there are several alternatives including Camera Awesome and Flickr.

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