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Facebook's about-face over Instagram (week in review)

Instagram user backlash leads to backpedaling, while Facebook goes after user bucks. Also: the Apple-Samsung patent spat continues.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
3 min read

It didn't take Facebook long to backtrack over controversial policy changes it intended to make regarding its photo-sharing app Instagram.

A public backlash was ignited by Instagram stating that had it the perpetual right to sell users' photographs without payment or notification. Under the new policy, Facebook claimed the right to license all public Instagram photos to companies or any other organization, including for advertising purposes, which would effectively transform the Web site into the world's largest stock photo agency.

"Instagram is now the new iStockPhoto, except they won't have to pay you anything to use your images," one user quipped on Twitter.

Instagram soon apologized to its users, saying it would "remove" language from its legal terms that would have let it sell users' photos or use them in advertisements. In a blog post, Chief Executive Kevin Systrom said it's "our mistake that this language is confusing" and that the company is "working on updated language."

A day later, Instagram officially backpedaled on the changes, with Systrom announcing that the terms will revert to the version in place since the service launched in 2010. Systrom also denied that the company ever intended to sell users' images.

"I want to be really clear: Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don't own your photos -- you do," he said.
•  National Geographic turns off Instagram over new terms
•  Instagram rivals try to lure users away after photo rights flap
•  Don't blame Instagram users -- blame Instagram
•  Zuckerberg's sister 'Likes' the Instagram backlash
•  Instagram reminds us that we are the product for sale

More headlines

Key Apple patent used against Samsung under fire

A key Apple patent used against Samsung in court is under close scrutiny by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
•  Samsung drops Apple ban request in Europe
•  Apple loses bid for permanent ban on Samsung phones in U.S.
•  Samsung loses bid for new trial after Apple's $1B verdict

Google to submit antitrust probe settlement offer in January

The search giant is going to send the European Union's antitrust commission an offer next month.

Facebook tests $1 fee for inbox access

The "small experiment" will let some people pay to have a message routed to the Inbox of someone they're not connected with, rather have it be banished to the Other folder.
•  Facebook said to launch autoplay video ads in news feed
•  Facebook puts mobile ad network on the back burner

Samsung displaces Nokia as overall cell phone king

Thanks to an erosion in Nokia's smartphone business, the company saw its 14-year reign end.
•  Samsung preps 5.5-inch flexible phone screen for CES demo
•  Samsung announces Galaxy Grand: 5-inch Jelly Bean-powered smartphone

Google Maps for iOS nabs 10M downloads in first two days

Google's official maps application for iOS pulled in more than 10 million downloads in its first 48 hours on the App Store, according to the company.
•  iOS 6 adoption surges after release of Google Maps app
•  Big iOS 6 uptick linked to China launch, instead of Google Maps

Online holiday shoppers spend $35B so far this season

This season's online spending marks a 13 percent increase over that of last year, says ComScore. But that's still below expectations.
•  U.S. shoppers spent $7B online last week -- busiest 5 days ever

Also of note
•  It's official: Your Twitter archive is here and now, sort of
•  DARPA wants to build 100Gbps wireless military network
•  New York A.G. removes 2,100 sex offenders from online games