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.
The controversy can be pinned down to a few sentences of legalese that Instagram (or more properly, its corporate masters at Facebook) inserted. Let’s read it together:
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.
This means that Instagram can sell the pictures you take of pineapple upside down cake, latte swirls, and your dumb dog, if some company wants to pay for these photos. They can then do whatever the hell they want with them, including putting the photos in advertisements for shoes or cars or whatever.
This prospect is so outrageous to some people that they’re fed up with the program, which costs zero dollars to download and zero dollars to use, and are going to take their non-money elsewhere:
What none of these hair-pulling photo-sharing apocalypse-moaners neglect to mention is that Instagram’s a business. A business that charges nothing for something that millions of people use constantly. In that sense, it’s a crazy business. It’s also a business that Facebook bought for one billion dollars. Facebook isn’t the World Wildlife Fund or a soup kitchen — it’s also a business, and one with very angry shareholders who expect to see a return on Facebook’s insanely insane purchase. Ergo, Instagram needs to start making money.
So it has three options.
Instagram can charge you to download it, in which case, nobody will download it anymore.
Instagram can charge you a subscription to use it, in which case everyone who has downloaded it will stop using it.
Or Instagram can figure out a way to licence the throwaway pictures you capture with 90 seconds of mental activity throughout the day, because it’s not a photographic non-profit, and needs some way of keeping its meagre staff of 10 people from being evicted.
Really, you shouldn’t care about these pictures to begin with.