In December, Instagram, the Facebook-owned mobile photo and video-sharing social media platform, hit 300 million active monthly users. Forty-one percent of these users are between the ages of 16-24. Do you think people in this age group are taking the time to read through their favorite app’s terms and conditions? Probably not.
The first thing that caught my eye was that users must be 13 or older. Can you imagine a 13-year-old trying to understand Instagram’s Ts & Cs? Because Instagram’s average user tends to be on the younger side, it’s even more important that its terms be written in plain English. In fact, since Instagram is often referred to as the “cooler” Facebook, it should have a “cool” terms and conditions section, filled with witty humor, images and an easy-to-navigate format, such as is the case with Facebook’s privacy basics page.
“You must not create or submit unwanted email, comments, likes or other forms of commercial or harassing communications (a/k/a “spam”) to any Instagram users.” While this rule is clearly spelled out in Instagram’s Ts & Cs, I see it broken every day by users who leave spam comments on celebrity photos. What is Instagram doing to reduce the number of times this happens? Are they terminating these users’ accounts like they say they will?
I think the part that most sticks out to me is Instagram’s rule about not abusing, stalking or bullying other users. In its Ts & Cs, Instagram only spells out what users can’t do but not what it will do to help combat the bullying and abuse that occurs on its platform. The closest it comes to providing some sort of solution is on its Abuse & Spam page, where it recommends that users report such behavior using the app’s built-in reporting features. But how does this give users peace of mind that their issue will be resolved, especially when its Ts & Cs note that “”Instagram does not have any obligation to prescreen, monitor, edit, or remove any Content?” As I mentioned in my reading reaction this week, safety is a two-way street. Users signing up for Instagram want to be rest assured that, if they abide by all of the platform’s rules, they will be well taken care, should an issue arise.
After reviewing its online documents, what I liked more than Instagram’s Ts & Cs was its Community Guidelines document, which clearly and concisely spelled out what users can and can’t do as well as additional things they should keep in mind.