The odds of any of my Instagram photos being picked up are about the same as Johnny Depp calling and answering that Tiger Beat fan letter I sent back in 1980. (I forgive you Johnny. Call me!) The majority of my photos are of my dog, my lunch (I am one of those people) and the occasional picture of my daughters or husband. I’m not particularly artsy and feel a little pretentious when I use any of the filters.
For me, the issue isn’t that Instagram’s marketing department is just waiting to get their hands on my grainy iPhone 3G photos, it’s that they could, and without my permission or compensation.
Instagram says the changes in their policy are for users’ protection. But, keep in mind Facebook bought Instagram for one billion – that’s not a typo, I meant to type “billion” – back in April, and really, this all comes down to cold, hard cash. Like so many social networking sites, it’s a free service, so they need to come up with a way to monetize their investment.
One concern is that because of all the Facebook hoaxes like “With changes in Facebook, everyone can now access information from persons who are not in your contacts”, this change will get lost in all the noise. And because Facebook’s track record of protecting users privacy spotty at best, Dan Gillmor, founder of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication warns, “It doesn’t surprise me that they’re doing it again…I would expect, in the next few days, to see Facebook/Instagram follow the standard Facebook playbook: Take one step back, having taken three steps forward, and call it ‘listening to our users.’”
Speaking of “listening to our users,” Instagram posted an update to the policy this afternoon, reassuring us and attempting to clarify any misunderstandings. Also keep in mind the policy only applies to photos posted after January 16, so feel free to post those photos of a Christmas tree made of broccoli and your cat giving you the stink eye for making it wear reindeer antlers or a Santa hat.
But once January 16th rolls around, the only way to opt out is to delete your account. After that, there’s always Hipstamatic, Flickr, or Twitter. They’re still free, and have no plans to sell your photos or information. Yet.
Image source: Independent