Instagram users were up in arms after the photo-sharing social network added new conditions to its privacy policy late Monday night. Outraged fans took to social media, threatening to delete their accounts and move to different services.

The company responded Wednesday morning with an apology and a “clarification” of the new terms of use. Instagram said it will remove confusing language from its legal terms which suggest that users’ photos might be sold to third parties for advertisements.

But is today’s statement really a matter of clarifying legalese or is the company actually backpedaling on its planned course of action? The new conditions issued Monday appeared to be unambiguous. Is Instagram trying to “spin” a social media-induced change of heart without acknowledging that the company erred in the first place with respect to the changes to its privacy terms?

Regardless of Instagram’s true intentions, the events of this week shined a negative light on the company and left users confused and frustrated.  Instagram must carefully consider its moves ahead to retain its existing customer base and continue growth.  Also, this latest kerfuffle appears to illustrate how individual consumers can effectively harness the power of social media to influence major changes by organizations.

Red Banyan Group is a South Florida crisis communications firm often retained by clients in challenging situations when a company’s reputation is at stake. Acting swiftly and appropriately in these critical moments is key. Our specialized team provides expert crisis public relations counsel to help companies weather media firestorms and to effectively convey the right information to important stakeholders.