News of the Tweet: InstaKneeJerk

Panic, pandemonium and pictures of your poodle


By Seb Kemp

{Editor’s Note: Seb’s a giver–and a timely one at that–which is why you’re looking at not just one, but two, NOTTs this week. Enjoy.]

Just days before the end of the world was supposed to happen, parts of the more mentally challenged social media world stood up to protest some abstract Instagram Terms of Service changes, some going as far as threatening to delete their accounts.

The explosion of Instagram bashing — which echoed previous bash-fests aimed at its new corporate parent, Facebook — was over a planned policy change that appeared to give the photo-sharing site new latitude to sell images uploaded by users, without permission and without compensation.
Many users feel that, based on the new “Terms of Use” Instagram announced Monday, they fear they could find themselves — or their friends, or even their children, if they were captured in uploaded photos — in advertisements created by the company or by Facebook.

It seems like every two weeks mob mentality takes over and people indignantly chirp status updates about how miffed they are something has changed. In the early days of social media it was about the layout of Facebook changing but now it is people being worried that they will see their photos floating around in the public domain despite the fact that they were quite happy to take that photo of their intimate moment and put it up on a social media site in the first place.

What this means is that it has become much easier to decide whose Instragram feed to follow, and indeed, which people you probably don’t want to get stuck on a desert island with.

The deafening noise of idiots whining must have been heard in the ivory towers of Zuckerbergton. So, obviously social media does work in some ways because midway through the day Instagram shot this out.

“It was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation,” company co-founder Kevin Systrom wrote in the post. “This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing.”
Still, it didn’t stop some people from deleting (or threatening to delete) their profile.

But if they did, well, there are alternatives. There’s going to be no chance of anyone stealing your Picasso-esque masterpieces. Certainly not when no one but the other half dozen users on some of these little sites.

By the end of Tuesday, Instagram did try to placate the masses.

What this essentially means is:
1. No, dummy, Instagram can’t sell your photos.
2. Actually, if you really cared you would have read the existing terms then you would see that Instagram always has had the right to use your photos, even for ads. In fact, the new terms actually make things clearer and more limited.

The Verge have a really neat little summary of the whole horrendous escapade (all 24 hours of it), concluding that while Instagram may have “screwed up royally” by not clearly explaining their intent, and that “the real lesson here is about how little we trust Facebook.”

Go read it.

Anyway, what we can deduce from all this is that Facebook (Instagram’s overlords) must have something up their sleeves for the photo sharing platform. It will be changing but I very much doubt it will change to become as sinister and creepy as some people would have you believe. It’s obvious that money needs to be made from Instagram, that’s why Facebook bought it for an astronomical number of dollars. If you click here, you can read TechCrunch.com analysis of the Instagram/Twitter stand off and what it has meant for traffic to Instagram.

Daryl Langs, a writer and marketer, is pointing out the obvious. Well, you would think it was obvious, but obviously not to some. It’s quite funny to stand back and watch a lot of Instagram hobbists who had obviously planned to make their fortune off their phone pictures squirm because now they thought someone else will. Namely Mark Zuckerberg, AKA The Geek The World Loves To Begrudge.

Even funnier to watch was the professionals who took this as a reason to think their world was ending. Several things strike me about professional photographers who were up in arms.

1. Who puts something commercially useful on twitter anyway? It’s all coffee foam, sunsets and “look what I’m doing” shots.
2. What kind of awesome filter would you need to make your photos so appealing to the greedy corporate pirates that they might want to use it for the next Chanel ad?
3. Surely the biggest evil is that if you think phone pictures have become more commercially viable than your best work with your big boy camera (#notiphone) then the world truly is fucked. It would mark the death of quality and craft so you may as well but your camera gear to use and hang yourself from the barn door with it. However, I don’t believe this one bit. Real artists and professionals (not just photographers but all skilled craftsmen), if they are good at what they do, will always be able to trump something shot on someones phone camera. If you don’t believe this or are still scared for your pay cheque then perhaps this is the wake up call you need to reassess the quality of your own work.

Now, one exception is National Geographic who have suspended new posts to Instagram because they are “very concerned about the direction of the proposed new terms of service.” National Geographic differ from you or Semi-Pro Joe because they actually put real images up there and it’s smart to not want those images appropriated for others benefits. National Geographic take a lot of the award winning photography that appears in the magazine, TV, or numerous other outlets they control and post it up on Instagram as a way to drive traffic to the money making outlets. In a way, that is advertising. They have just found a free and easy tool to market their own wares. So to be up in arms about Instagram trying to make a few dollars to keep the social media channel alive reeks of hypocrisy.

Really though, the whole uproar is just another shade of the how digital consumers are wising up to how their data is used. Just being a part of any social media network is fueling the system so if you don’t like it it is time to delete all of your social media, nay, your whole digital shadow. Instagram is no different than any other platform: you sign up and sign your data use away, meanwhile these companies use and sell information about you. It’s the real cost of social media. If you don’t like it, then it’s time to ship out of not just Instagram, but all of them.

This also raises the question about what on earth social media is for exactly? Vice.com are ahead of the curve and actually went out to ask young Americans this very question. In the following video they ask is social media a helpful tool in communication or a medium to create mindless banter?

Please note the opinions raised about the danger of anonymous internet comments.

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