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Instagram’s woes continue, now subject of a class-action lawsuit over ToS mess

If Instagram was granted a single Christmas wish this year, it might be for the furor surrounding last week’s proposed changes to its terms of service to shrivel up and die. But it seems the situation still has some legs in it.

According to a Reuters report on Monday, the photo-sharing site is now the target of a class-action lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court late last week in connection with its changed terms.

Brought by California resident and Instagram user Lucy Funes together with “other California customers”, the lawsuit claims breach of contract – along with several other claims – and has been filed despite Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom last week clarifying the situation regarding the new terms, which are set to come into effect next month.

Finkelstein & Krinsk, the law firm which has filed the lawsuit, says in its papers that users of the photo-sharing site unhappy with Instagram’s revised terms can close their account but in doing so give up rights to images they had stored with the service.

“In short, Instagram declares that ‘possession is nine-tenths of the law and if you don’t like it, you can’t stop us,’” the lawsuit says.

Instagram created a stir last week when it revealed new terms of service which it said will come into effect on January 19. Users were none too pleased by the wording of the proposed terms, which appeared to give Facebook-owned Instagram the right to sell users’ photos for advertising purposes without having to ask for permission or offer any compensation.

Following user complaints, Systrom was forced to announce further adjustments to the terms of service late last week, adding that “Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don’t own your photos – you do.”

However, as Reuters points out in its report, the photo-sharing site retained language in its terms that allow it to place advertisements relating to user content, adding that “we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.”

It also noted that the new terms include a mandatory arbitration clause “forcing users to waive their rights to participate in a class action lawsuit except under very limited circumstances.” The current terms of service, effective until the change next month, offer no such protection, explaining the timing of Funes’ lawsuit.

Facebook spokesperson Andrew Noyes told Reuters, “We believe this complaint is without merit and we will fight it vigorously.”

Anyone who feels the need to pore over the details of a lawsuit during their Christmas celebrations should head over to here forthwith.