In the age of social media, new platforms struggle to dethrone the reigning kings of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. But one application, Vero, has gained traction in its attempt to replace Instagram. Launched in 2015, Vero touts itself as a “true social” experience where users can share photos, links, music, movies, books, and location check-ins. Although Vero launched in 2015, it shot to the top of Apple’s App Store (from #566 to #1) and Google Play seemingly overnight and currently boasts nearly three million users. Its sudden surge in popularity is attributed to a change in Instagram’s algorithm regarding chronological order of posts and Vero’s initial promise that only the first million users would avoid paying a subscription fee (although, at the time of this publication, the application is still free until further notice).
With millions of users joining Vero in one short week, controversy quickly followed. One of the largest complaints against Vero is its terms and conditions, which many argue as too broad and sweeping. Specifically, many users refused to join or deleted their accounts after realizing they granted Vero “a limited, royalty-free, sublicensable, transferable, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, list information regarding, translate, distribute, syndicate, publicly perform, publicly display, make derivative works of, or otherwise use your User Content.” Royalty-free? Irrevocable? Sounds scary to the average user.
But if those terms are a concern, we caution you to inspect the terms and conditions of all your social media platforms; they each use similar language.
Every tweet grants Twitter “a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content […]. This license authorizes us to make your Content available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same.” Don’t be surprised if Facebook itself “likes” the video you posted of your adorable niece, because you granted them “a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.” Posted a perfectly filtered photo of your brunch to Instagram? In addition to giving them envy over your eggs Benedict, you also gave Instagram a “non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content.”
The use of these platforms themselves are an acceptance of their respective contractual terms, and like any contract, it is imperative to understand exactly to what you have agreed. Ultimately, Vero’s terms and conditions are no broader or narrower than most platforms’ terms and conditions. There are arguments for and against all social media platforms that go beyond their respective terms and conditions, but if your use is conditional on those terms, consider reevaluating your involvement with any social media platform.