Will you quit Instagram now?

  • Blog Post by: $author
  • December 18, 2012 - 12:13 PM

If you belong, that is. Or have joined. I'm not sure anyone "belongs" to these things. They certainly don't belong to us.

Anyway: Instagram is getting flak for its new privacy statement. Apparently it’s different from the old one, which no one read. No ever reads the whole EULA; everyone who’s in their twenties today grew up learning to lie about reading legal documents. They might as well say “By clicking ‘I Agree’ you acknowledge that you read the entire 15,938 words document, including the part about the company not being liable if the software causes your computer to repeatedly dial the police and ask, in a flat robotic voice, if they have Prince Albert in the can.” Sure whatever I want to play the game, click.


Gizmodo says:

A new Instagram privacy policy goes into effect on January 16th, 2013. The service will now be sharing your data with its new owner Facebook. Get used to it.


Basically, Instagram has updated a few of the subhead sections of its policy to reflect the fact that it is a part of Facebook now. Instagram can now share information like cookies, log files, device identifiers, location data, and usage data,with "with businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that Instagram is part of."

The Instagram blog says these changes will help them fight spam - there isn’t any at present, but there might be - and “detect system and reliability problems more quickly.” So all your data is going to Facebook, which will sift it and sell it and

 ensure that your ad experience is just as nifty as possible. Great! If that’s what you want. I don’t. I want Facebook to leave me alone.

The other part that’s caused some to stalk away in a huff? Instagram - meaning, Facebook - says they can use your photos for anything, if they want.Someone else got in trouble for this a while back; who was it? Pinterest? It’s a stupid move, easy to avoid. Have an agreement that makes sense to ordinary humans, and include something like this:

“Gosh no, we’d never use your pictures in any ad campaign without asking. That would be skeezy. If we did ask, and you said yes, we’d pay you. I mean, didn’t we just get a billion dollars from Facebook? Of course!”

Not to overquote Giz, but they’re on this with the usual finesse and incisive perspective you’ve come to expect:

Have you heard the news? Instagram just updated its terms of service, and is giving itself permission to sell the photos you take to advertisers. Lots of users are weeping, threatening to quit, and screaming about privacy.

Counterpoint: shut up.

He goes on to point out the obvious: it’s free, no one’s making you use it, and businesses need to make money, so if theylicense your photo to someone willing to pay money, it’ll keep the lights on. Because he knows that opinionated bossypants get attention, he tells you how to regard your work:

But there's a larger point to be made here. You shouldn't care about these pictures to begin with.

Counterpoint: shut up. Elaboration: shut up and sit down. Yes, the charm of Instagram, in part, comes from the stream of snaps that flow past, documenting people’s lives, the things they see, the desserts they feel compelled to share with the world, and so on. If you subscribe to your friends’ feeds, that’s what you will get. But if you subscribe to people who are very good, and have a style or recurring subject you like, it’s not a throwaway experience - and if you’re one of those

people who’s letting the world peek at your portfolio, you have good reason to care about your pictures. He concludes:

Realize that you're finally paying the price of admission for a seat you took years ago. And maybe be flattered that your life is visually interesting enough to consider whoring out to begin with.

There. You have been told. Now go back to taking pictures of your stupid feet.

I agree they’ve every right to do this, but surely there’s a nicer way to explain the free market to people.

Will this cause people to flee to Flickr? They just put out a great app with better filters than the Instagram app. Snapseed is one of my favorite new camera apps, and it’ll export to Flickr as well. (Google bought it, though, so it probably uploads your location so they can tell your browser on another computer to include an ad for the store you were standing next to, but did not enter.) (Kidding.) (Sort of.)


(Note: pictures from my Instagram feed, as well as one from my daughter’s.)

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