Social Media TOS Tuesday: Can You Repost Followers’ Photos or Videos on Instagram? #hesm #highered

September 10th, 2013 Karine Joly 5 Comments

UPDATE April 2015: Instagram has finally clarified its community guidelines so you can now regram photos if you have the permission to do so from the copyright owner.
UPDATE Nov 7, 2014: Isn’t it time to update @Instragram Community Guidelines about “regramming” photos?

Social Media TOS Tuesdays?

The headline might be a bit lame, but, the goal of this new series of posts isn’t.

Social Media TOS Presentation by Karine JolyOver the past few months I’ve taken an unusual (and unhealthy) interest in the terms of service (TOS) of the main social media platforms used by communicators and marketers in higher education.

I went through a TOS reading marathon last May and presented twice about the topic at conferences this summer. I will give the next (and last scheduled) presentation of my Social Media TOS Crash Course including several updates at the High Ed Web Conference in Buffalo on October 7, 2013.

Many attendees have asked for my slides but I wasn’t too keen on sharing these slides as changes in social media TOS happen very often – thus making the slides obsolete. They also feature a few examples of institutions breaking social media TOS so attendees can test their knowledge. And, I don’t want to “out” or get into trouble any institution by widely sharing these examples.

In this series of posts (that I’ll update if any change happens), I plan to address some of the points I see most often infringed in higher education as well as any specific questions you might have about what you can or can’t do as a social media professional according to the TOS.

So, if you have questions, post them as a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them in a future TOS Tuesday.

Can You “Instagram” What Others Have Already “Instagram-ed?”

Instagram Camera Icon

I have attended a couple of conference presentation and read a few social media posts reporting or encouraging people to post on an institution’s Instagram account photos already posted by Instagram followers.

While in most cases it was also advised to ask for permission and credit the original poster (which is definitely what should be done to avoid any problem with DMCA complaints), this practice is still in breach with Instagram Community Guidelines that are part of its terms of service.

As you can see on this screenshot taken with my iPod, you should only post on your Instagram account photos YOU have taken yourself:


And, if this wasn’t clear enough the first time, another version of this guideline (formatted as a “don’t” this time) is also listed on the same page explaining that you could have your account taken down if you abuse this rule a bit too much:


So, How Can You Share Great Instagram Photos from Your Community?

This guideline guarantees that copyrights and privacy settings are respected.

Now, if you really want to share what others are posting about your institution, you can always promote the use of a hashtag or use the pretty new embedding feature now available on Instagram public posts.

Got a question about Social Media terms of service (TOS)? Post it as a comment so I can try my best to answer it in a future Social Media TOS Tuesday!

5 Responses

  1. Chris Syme says:

    Good reminder. I bet many of us are violating this on a regular basis. Thanks for the workarounds.

  2. Lauren says:

    What about sharing an Instagram photo with permission and credit given to the original user on Facebook? I wonder if now that Instagram is owned by Facebook, the same terms apply on Facebook as well. I’ve been seeing quite a few colleges doing this lately.

  3. Kris Gallagher says:

    Hi, Karine – Thanks for the timely post. Do these embed codes work on Facebook? Our students take great photos. If I have their permission to share on Facebook, will the embed code work? If it doesn’t, can I copy and share the photo to Facebook (crediting the student) without violating TOS? The guideline above refers to re-posting on Instagram.

  4. Thank you for your insights! At the University of San Francisco we feature Instagram photos from the USF community without reposting to Instagram, through the curated social media project #USFCA ( The application ( guarantees good curation practice by automatically referring back to the original source.

  5. Karine Joly says:

    Lauren and Kris, I’ll tackle this one in my next post.

    Thanks for sharing your example, Thomas. Great way to curate while respecting the TOS :-)

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