If you haven’t heard about the recent internet explosion caused by angry Instagram users you may have been living under a rock. The uproar, fueled by the announcement that the popular photo sharing site planned changes to its user service agreement sent bloggers, photographers, models and regular everyday people into a spiral. The new service agreement planned to take affect January 16th and written in tons of legal jargon not comprehensible by normal human beings, gave the impression that user photos could be sold in conjunction with ads and sponsored content without written permission and/or compensation.
Within hours of the companies posted update, folks took to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to warn fellow users of the new terms, and threatening to cancel accounts. Celebrities were among the ranks and the masses marked this as the unequivocal suicide of Instagram.
Imagine what this would mean for those of us who relied on our image(s) as a means of income. Celebrities, bloggers and taste-makers could potentially become “the face” of products and services they had never used. Publications and media outlets could obtain Photographers images without them ever knowing.
This commercialization is not uncommon for growing social media outlets and since being purchased by Facebook Inc. in September of 2012 for over $740 million, Instagram has slowly been on the decline of cool. From the outrageous server debacle this past June, a short stint of pop-up ads, incessant SPAM-comments and the introduction of online profile access, it’s safe to say that users like myself who’ve been with Instagram since its beginning are not too happy about the “improvements” since Facebook’s involvement.
With so many competing photo sharing applications popping up all over the world, it may be wise for Instagram to maintain a pristine relationship with it’s loyal users. The introduction of MxPix by South African-based social networking startup Motribe has proved that catering to a broader audience, not just smartphone users may be the way to go. Africa’s version of Instagram, MxPix allows users and brands to share photos and status updates from ANY mobile device. Photo editing and effects filters are also available on the mobile app which attracted over 1 million users in the first 33 days of it’s launch. With Africa being one of the largest mobile markets in the world (second only to Asia) MxPix may prove to give it’s predecessor, Instagram a run for their money.
For those of you who have decided to stick it out with Instagram, there’s no need to worry! Because of the cancellation of thousands of accounts and huge backlash received from users, the companies Chief Executive Officer: Kevin Systrom took to its blog to assure users that it was all a big misunderstanding. Admitting that the legal terms used in the updated policy could be “confusing,” Systrom confirms that the company will explore advertising in the future, but wants users to rest assure that their photos will remain theirs. So though its not guaranteed that you won’t soon be bombarded by irritating advertisements, it seems at least, you won’t have to worry about that humiliating photo your best friend took of you drooling in her backseat popping up in one of those ads.
I don’t know about you guys but I’m not so convinced!
Safiyyah Fatin is a new media and fashion blogger and stylist born and raised on the mean streets of New York City. Find her work at http://aclosetcase.blogspot.com