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Instagram: 'Legal documents are easy to misinterpet'

With calls for a boycott and users leaving the site in waves, Instagram on Tuesday said its terms of service changes were "misinterpreted."

Put down those artistically filtered torches and pitchforks: Instagram is dialing back its unpopular terms of service update.

After Instagram users began exporting their photos and deleting their accounts en masse, the photo-sharing service on Tuesday wrote a blog post to clarify the terms of service changes that sparked fury on the Internet the past two days.

At issue were concerns over whether Instagram would sell your photos to be used in advertisements without your permission or compensation, as the policy seemed to indicate. High-profile Instagram users, including photographers and bloggers, had threatened to abandon the site--if they hadn't left already.

In a post titled, "Thank you, and we're listening," Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said "legal documents are easy to misinterpret."

"Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we'd like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram," Systrom said. "Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos."

Systrom added that the company is updating the policy's language to clarify the confusion. Instagram is also removing the section about incorporating users' photos into ads, because "we do not have plans for anything like this," he said.

Systrom also walked back any claim over photo ownership on the company's behalf. He said listening to user feedback was one reason why the policy changes weren't scheduled to go into effect until January 16.

It's too soon to tell exactly how many users deleted their accounts, but now-former users responded to Instagram's post and tweets with apathy: "Damage done. Moving on..." replied Twitter user @AirlineFlyer.

"Listening to the sounds of people deleting their accounts? What's that sound like?" @EricWilborn tweeted.


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