What to Make of the Epic #Instafail

Published On January 9, 2013 | App & Software

If you’ve been around the Internet for more than a few days, and any of your friends use Instagram, then you’ve heard all the outrage at the service that recently changed its terms and conditions. If you haven’t, let’s back up and get you filled in.

Instagram is a photo storage site with an app that lets you apply filters to your photos. By and large, a lot of the photos contain images of food and cats, which is one reason that outsiders don’t quite understand how Instagram is as popular as it is. But you can’t deny its popularity given how many people re-post pictures from the website to their other social network profiles. So when you read reports that 25 percent of the service’s users have recently left Instagram due to a change in their conditions, this isn’t a measly number.

On December 17, Instagram rolled out an update to its terms of service. It’s unlikely that the company had an idea just how much of a commotion this would cause, however. In fact, the updated terms aren’t stated to come into effect until the middle of January, but that didn’t stop users from deleting accounts, posting on Facebook and letting their voices be heard.

Just what is it that has them in such a frenzy? In short, Instagram’s new terms appear to reserve the right for the company to employ user photos in ads. The terms go as far as suggesting that Instagram could sell photos uploaded by users to advertisers, which is what many people are concerned about. The idea that the service would also display ads right next to a user’s photos on the website is also a new addition. It comes on the heels of Instagram creating Web profiles for members. Prior to that, you had to view photos by yourself and others with one of the apps; there was no way to view Instagram profiles and pictures in your browser.

In the past, Internet users have rebelled against similar changes with other services, so it’s no surprise that they wouldn’t take this lying down. Of course, Facebook has recently acquired Instagram, and the social network giant is among the worst when it comes to using your user photos and name to promote services. Just take a look at your Facebook news feed, and you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.

However, just because the terms have changed and leave the door open for photos to be used in such a manner doesn’t actually mean that Instagram will. Still, it sets a worrisome precedent for the future, and that’s why users have fled in droves. Actual intent to sell user’s pictures on the part of Instagram would likely crippled the company.

Of course, Instagram is a business that needs to make money somehow, and it will probably involve advertisements if the history of Facebook gives us any insight. Worried users might just have to stick around to see how, or even if, anything comes from this change.

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