The week that was belonged to Instagram — and not in a good way.
Instagram learns that being part of Facebook is sometimes a bitch
From a public relations standpoint, they did it at the right time. Not that it worked.
At the start of what would likely be the final work week for many of the year, Instagram hoped to push through a new Terms of Service for their users without anyone noticing. Unfortunately, for them anyway, people had just enough time to step away from the office Christmas party or trip to the mall, to notice.
Instagram’s new TOS, no doubt written by Facebook’s finest lawyers, basically sought from users permission to use personal images for whatever purposes they saw fit. Specifically, the new document suggested that images would be used in “not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.”
The result was a public backlash not seen since Tim Cook and company released iOS 6 Maps earlier this year.
By mid-week, Instagram’s Kevin Systrom hoped to debunk concerns by issuing a rambling blog post, entitled “Thank you, and we’re listening.” In it, the co-founder said that the Facebook company had no intention of using our images for advertising purposes. Rather, he blamed the concerns on “legal documents” that “are easy to misinterpret.”
It didn’t matter. By the end of the week, the damage was done, as even National Geographic said that they would stop using Instagram.
By the end of the week, Instagram changed course — or rather, took a step back. The company announced that they would revert the document’s advertising section back to its original language.
In a release, Systrom said:
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.
Going forward, rather than obtain permission from you to introduce possible advertising products we have not yet developed, we are going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work.
You also had deep concerns about whether under our new terms, Instagram had any plans to sell your content. 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.
What’s the lesson?
When it arrived for iPhone in October 2010, Instagram was unique, refreshing, and perhaps most importantly, represented all that was good with independent app developers. In turn, folks flocked to the photo-editing app in huge numbers.
Since being purchased by Facebook earlier this year, however, Instagram has felt the wrath of belonging to the largest social network in the world. As a result, every move they make is now scrutinized, for good or bad. Hopefully, this situation has taught Instagram to better respect their customers or else see them leave in droves.
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I hope that your holiday is filled with happiness, joy, and perhaps a little piece of Apple under the tree! Merry Christmas!