instagram terms-of-use update secret

Instagram’s new privacy policy is outrageous!

Well, not really… and I don’t think that Instagram’s terms-of-use update should come as a surprise. What we observe today seemed imminent to me from the moment Instagram was bought by Facebook. Heck, it was obvious, from the very beginning, that at some stage they would have to introduce a system of ads, etc to make money. Nothing comes for free. If you don’t like Instagaram’s approach to doing business, than go for Hipstamatic – they probably will not try to rip you off with innovative advertising plans, because you have already paid them to use their app :D. You have the choice! But you say that is is not about business, it is about sharing and community!

The photographic community

I appreciate the vivid response to Instagram’s policy change from the photographic community. Observations and analyses vary wildly in their suspicions, warnings and recommendations for users and future lawyers. Amidst the crushing waves of criticism, panic and chaos, I personally value what Chase Jarvis has to say about the whole instagram copyright crisis situation, especially in view of the history of his own version of the shoot and share photo app, which is now “derailed” as he himself noted. He is a photography icon now and I truly admire his dedication to worldwide photographic community as well as his entrepreneurship, but I do think that he is not exactly on the right track about Instagram here. Again – For me this seems like a well devised business plan: no conspiracy here and most certainly no unintentional legal bloopers.

Conspiracy theory and the secret of Instagram’s terms-of-use

What instagram really needed was just a bit of extra hype and user attention. I mean – do you really think that a billion dollar business machine does not have the resources or enough man-brain-power to come up with a CLEAR “terms and conditions’ text? Really? Or are you perhaps suggesting that probably some of the most expensive lawyers and spin doctors in the world do not know what they’re doing…  Well…

The pattern seems just too obvious and it has been used numerous times before:

  1. You want to introduce a fundamental change in a system (here: instagram’s privacy policy and AD programme)
  2. At the same time you know that your users might not like or even oppose the change. What do you do to alleviate the pain of change and overcome the fear associated with it?
  3. Simple: you negotiate. You negotiate the terms. All good negotiators know that they have to start at a high bid to get to the place they originally aimed at.
  4. So, you put forward your initial huuuge and insane bidwhich you know is unacceptable for the other party!
  5. but you do that only to back down in style – just so that the other party can feel in control,
  6. Now is the time for you to introduce WHAT YOU WANTED from the very beginning. And BY CONTRAST, suddenly, the “new” offer seems entirely acceptable and in fact, you’re happy about it. you made a DEAL.

Now we’re all happy that instagram is listening to us! Our angered voices have been heard and WE HAVE RESTORED (the due) ORDER IN THE GALAXY!!! And we’ve done it with your bare hands, and perhaps with a little help in the shapes of keyboards and touchscreens! Yet, in the face of users’ unquestionable success, in the face of a great victory over the copyright and royalty-free photographic Armageddon that instagram indubitably intended to spark, the simple fact that instagram goes full throttle into the advertising business seems like some marginal local news unworthy of discussion, let alone public outrage. Hey, it even seems like we wanted it in the first place…

The whole scheme seems to me like a variant, or in fact a combination of a well known set of psychological tricks, or rather: techniques; now blown up to a bigger, sociological scale. Don’t feel bad about it. Such psychological phenomena as “perceptual contrast” or “reciprocity” (and probably a bunch of others, but I’ll leave it to social psychologists to analyse) were allegedly behind the origins of a certain government operation only later to be known as the watergate scandal. So, if Nixon’s top administration officers fell for it, there really is no reason for anyone to feel bad about themselves.

Naturally, the moral and legal consequences of the watergate scandal are infinitely greater than anything even remotely connected with instargarm’s policy change. The only common thing is a mere negotiation strategy, maybe apart from the social reach and the sheer number of outraged people. So, to be clear, I’m not accusing Instagram of any malpractice or legal offences… well, maybe just of pushing the threshold of what’s socially acceptable, but that may eventually backfire. Yet that’s all negotiable and well within today’s societal discourse. Are instagram’s actions and their underlying strategies reprehensible or objectionable? I’d like to ask you that.

Idiots, mobile photography and advertising.

I don’t think that anyone who objects to their image being sold without compensation is an idiot, like Jim Edwards suggested in the bussiness insider. True, advertising is becoming a second nature to technology and objecting this inevitable process might seem unreasonable. However, I think he too, is missing the point, and coincidentally, fit my own theory about what’s going on. He publicly states that NOTHING HAPPENED. And, well, after a few articles deeply analysing the complicated legal side of this monster of a problem (articles like this one) and explaining that indeed NOTHING HAS CHANGED, at least not to the point where you loose all rights to your images… everything else is not really important, is it? You get status quo – your images are safe. The only marginal, even seemingly trivial difference is that Instagram is now an advertising platform apart from being a photo-sharing community, which is only natural for this type of platform, as Jim Edwards aptly underscored in his article.

Learn, take action and have fun!

Ultimately, all kinds of communities are founded on the shoulders of individual users/members. It would really be unreasonable to think that Instagram has a hidden agenda and wants to alienate and screw its users, who constitute its only “selling point”. Now, is being someone’s “selling point” a high price to pay for “free” software an addictive sharing experience? Google does it, facebook, does it, you tube does it… its either that or a “subscribtion fee”, depending on a business model. Truth be told, I do not feel angry about the whole situation. It fascinates me. I feel that this is what global democracy (or maybe technocracy disguised as internet-anarchy) might look like. What I know is that what we observe today certainly merits a professional socio-political analysis and perhaps we will have a new word for it, but that’s to be learned for tomorrow. Today, I just want to do something, anything. It actually makes me want to take action right now and create an Instagram account instead of deleting one… but with a little twist.


please instagram sell my image

One way or the other, I’m about to have fun

and nobody is going to take it away from me

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