I’ll admit it; I didn’t have a smart phone for so many years of Instagram’s existence, once I did get a smart phone and could use the app, I didn’t really think much about actually getting the app. I was just happy to take pictures on a phone, reliably.
Yes, I am a laggard.
Then Facebook bought Instagram back in September, and everyone could see the foreshadowing of doom in that event. Facebook bought them—a free service which generated no revenue– for $715.3 million. We all knew something was going to happen with that.
And with the release of the new privacy notice and terms of service, and Instagram’s pull away from Twitter (arguably, the social media service which made them what they are today), we now know what that was. Unless you live under a rock, you’ve seen it all over your social media.
The new privacy and user notices—set to take effect on January 16th—basically stated:
“Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. 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.”
And then the fury of a thousand suns ignited the interwebs as users took to Facebook and Twitter to denounce Instagram, its new policies, and detail their plans to close their accounts and reset their old Flickr passwords. The main concern, as you may have heard, is that whole ‘they can sell your information and photos to other people for their advertisement/revenue purposes without any compensation to you’ thing. The person who took the photo, and sole copyright owner.
I can’t tell you how many emails I received in the past three days telling me of my friends who’ve added me as a Flickr contact. I don’t think I’ve uploaded a picture to Flickr in over two years, myself. Flickr, for their part, are promoting the crap out of their mobile app this week.
Now, Facebook (owner) and Instagram, are backing away from this terms of service change. While Facebook has been able to get away with crap like this in the past (Timeline, anyone?) because very few people are willing to give up their Facebook accounts, Instagram users were more than happy to close their accounts, tweet about closing their accounts, and tell all their Facebook friends that they’d closed their accounts. Instagram released a new blog post late yesterday, stating:
“Since making these changes, we’ve heard loud and clear that many users are confused and upset about what the changes mean.”
“The language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question. Our main goal is to avoid things like advertising banners you see in other apps that would hurt the Instagram user experience. Instead, we want to create meaningful ways to help you discover new and interesting accounts and content while building a self-sustaining business at the same time.”
While it’s good that 1) they’re listening to their users and 2) they’re going to remove the provision, the whole blog post has a tone which reminds me of “you’re too stupid to understand legal jargon, obviously, so let’s spell it out in two syllable words.” I don’t like that feeling at all, and I don’t know how others may feel about it, either. I think this tone has a lot to do with the fourth paragraph, which goes, “From the start, Instagram was created to become a business. Advertising is one of many ways that Instagram can become a self-sustaining business, but not the only one.”
Please don’t treat us like children, Instagram. I’ve never used your product, but your handling of this blowout leaves quite a bit to be desired. Plus, you’re no Facebook.