Sophos security researcher Graham Cluley has identified a new risk for Instagram users now that the photo-sharing app is being acquired by Facebook: the unexpected use of photos shared by users in Facebook, either in ads or for other purposes.
"What needs to be recognized is that anytime you decide to store your information online, you should also assume that it could be used for marketing purposes and that it may be publicly available,” he wrote. "The acquisition of Instagram is a perfect example of how data shared online may have an uncertain future. As Instagram's policies state, they are "subject to change without notice" and users should be sure they are comfortable with their information being used in any way they can imagine.”
Cluley did not mention that brands' use of photos shared by users and not taken by professionals also carries some risk–for them.
Belvedere vodka recently learned this lesson with an ill-conceived and offensive ad that simulated a sexual assault. The ad appeared on its Facebook page for a short while, before it was taken down with an apology from the company. The company, no doubt had hoped to move on from that PR flub, but unfortunately its ad featured two people from a video posted on YouTube, AdWeek reports. Those people have filed suit against Belvedere, thus keeping the issue in front of the public.