It’s hard to get your Instagram account banned for violating copyright law, but that’s exactly what Instagram is doing with an advertising campaign that’s being branded as deceptive.
Instagram says the campaign is about “engaging with people in new ways”, and the Instagram team claims to have reached over 100 million people with the campaign, with a total spend of $2.6 million.
But a review of Instagram’s advertising policy reveals the company is using “a very low” amount of its advertising budget, and that’s a huge problem for copyright holders.
When a viewer clicks on an ad on Instagram, they are not asked to consent to the use of their data.
This means it is not a requirement that the viewer click through to a page that says they are consenting to the display of advertisements, which Instagram has done in its ads for a number of years.
As such, the company has created a false sense of consumer consent, using the phrase “engage with people” in a way that is completely misleading, said Luke Williams, director of intellectual property at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“The ad that’s featured on Instagram is a direct attack on the concept of consent, it’s a direct assault on the idea that people can be trusted to choose the content of their newsfeeds,” he said.
According to the FCC’s advertising guidelines, the ad must use a clear, unambiguous phrase that clearly identifies the advertising is related to the “advertising”.
“A clear, clear statement that it’s related to ‘advertising’ is extremely important because it allows consumers to decide what content they want to see and how much to pay for it,” Mr Williams said.
Instagram also says the ad should have a disclaimer stating it is sponsored by Instagram, and has a description that clearly states the ad is sponsored.
Ads can be displayed anywhere on Instagram except on pages that allow users to view them, so they’re not the kind of thing a viewer would normally see.
The agency that runs Instagram has been accused of “unfairly exploiting” the copyright system, with the EFF saying it’s not the first time a campaign like this has been used to manipulate the ad system.
The campaign, called “Ads for Real, not Fake”, is being promoted as part of Instagram ads campaign #real_not_fake.
Users can opt out of the campaign from the app’s settings.
It’s also possible to opt out from the campaign by clicking the “unfollow” button on the top right of the Instagram homepage.