As you may be aware, in the spring of this year, Facebook acquired Instagram for a cool $1 Billion. There was a lot of nervousness around this acquisition. FB is a huge company, and they are not just supplying us with the world’s largest social network because they want my son to remain connected to his grandmother who lives on the island.
They want to make money. Obviously. And I don’t begrudge them that. In fact, good on them for being so successful.
So when they acquired Instagram, there was a lot of us waiting for the other shoe to drop. But it didn’t. In fact, the app just got better, and all was quiet on the western front. So maybe there was a bit of lulling us into a false sense of security.
Then, last week, Instagram announced that it would be taking away your ability to post photos to your Twitter stream. You can still post to your Twitter stream, but the image shows up as a link, which you have to click to go back to Instagram to view. Previously, you could view the image without leaving Twitter.
Yesterday, Instagram announced that it’s changing its terms of service. You can read the entire thing here, but here’s the stuff that’s getting everyone up in arms:
To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf.
Remember the old days, when Facebook basically claimed the exact same thing over any photos you uploaded? This feels like a very similar thing: whether they will take advantage of it or not, Instagram, as of January 16, will have the right to sell your photos if you agree to the terms of service.
Now, honestly, for me, this is probably not such a big deal. I’m not a photographer, and my feed is jammed with photos of what I ate for dinner last night. However, I follow many amazing professional photographers on Instagram, and if they lose the rights to their work, that is really unfair. Or what about celebrities? Or children between the ages of 13 and 18?
Here’s the thing: I totally get that Instagram needs to make money. They’re a business. But I would rather pay for the app than have them make money this way. I love Instagram. Not just because they make my crappy iPhone camera photos look good. But because of the community on Instagram. It’s a really beautiful community, that communicates and shares it’s life on a daily basis through images. It’s magical.
Already my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of people saying they are leaving. So. Will this break Instagram? Who knows. Some of the best photographers on there, however, that I follow, have said they will delete their accounts before Jan 16. Will this water Instagram down? Probably. And if the quality of the images on there depletes, how long before people feel like they are not getting value and leave?
Only time will tell. Right now, it feels like a game of Chicken. Will Instagram back down in the face of the general outcry? Or will previously loyal fans leave in droves?
UPDATE: This just in from Instagram: Thank You and We’re Listening.
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