Instagram – Foot in Mouth


Social media maven Meagan Adele Lopez tackles the Instagram debacle.

If you like taking photos on your iPhone, chances are you use Instagram. If you’ve used Instagram at all this week (and updated it), you probably have seen a pop up that indicates the User Privacy Policy and Terms of Service will be changed as of January 19th, and then a couple of days later noticed that they changed it again based on “your feedback.”

On Tuesday, headlines were screaming Instagram Can Sell Your Photos Under New Policy from NBC Chicago, or Instagram Can Now Sell Your Photos for Ads from CNN Money. One thing was clear, users were angry. Users did NOT want their photos to be sold. Users started petitions. Celebrities, such as Photojournalist Ben Lowy and the #1 Instagram User (nope, not Justin Bieber), Kim Kardashian, threatened to take down their accounts. National Geographic suspended its account.

Suddenly, Instagram cried, “That’s not what we meant!” We, the users and the press, misinterpreted their words, and they were working furiously to modify the terms once again. Of course they care about us, but they are also a business designed to make money, they said.

Finally, founder, Kevin Systrom, wrote on Instagram’s blog just yesterday: “Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010. You can see the updated terms here…I want to be really clear: Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don’t own your photos – you do.”

We’ve become used to privacy changes with Facebook but keep using it, almost to a fault of our own. However, I don’t think users were quite on the same level with Instagram as they were with Facebook. Their entire social media presence is not centered around Instagram; it simply makes up a small slice of their social media pie. The thing that Instagram (i.e. Facebook) didn’t take into account when changing the terms and conditions on its users so abruptly was this very thing. For two social media sites (Facebook and Instagram) where encouraging user participation and feedback is paramount to its own success, they sure did a bad job of knowing, or even asking, their users what they wanted.

And that’s not cool.

Alas, there are other amazing photo-sharing apps with even cooler filters. Flickr, owned by Yahoo and co-founded by Caterina Fake and Steward Butterfield, was the most popular photo-sharing site of its time in 2002 (when mass-uploading photos could potentially take hours), and had the foresight to update its mobile app just last week. It slowly dwindled in numbers when they started charging a small fee to upload past a certain gigabyte, and Facebook took over. Now it’s primed to win again. (I’ve always liked the come-back kids. Right, MySpace?). For other options, try PathBeFunky, or even Twitter’s new Photo Image Filter.


About Meagan Adele Lopez

Meagan Adele Lopez is a social media digital advertiser at VivaKi, a partner of Publicis Groupe. Prior to joining VivaKi, Ms. Lopez co-founded SocialKaty, a local River North social media marketing agency where she grew the company to over 50 clients. She’s passionate about finding a way to communicate with other humans – purely and simply. For four yearsMs. Lopez worked in casting where she worked for such films as JunoThe Day the Earth Stood StillX-Files II,Jennifer’s Body and Repo Men, and television shows such as Medium and Numb3rs. While living in England, Ms. Lopez wrote her debut novel, Three Questions.