Earlier this week, Instagram introduced changes to its terms of service about sharing user information. including photographs and identity with advertisers, with the only way of opting out of it being deleting the account. This predictably brought strong protests from users and in the blink of an eye the company sent out a notification that it is rolling back its controversial policies.
The CEO Kevin Systrom went on his blog to say that ,
Being public companies, we expect businesses like Facebook , Google and LinkedIn to utilize the massive user base to constantly explore new revenue streams and grow and Facebook’s billion dollar acquisition is yet to start profiting from its user base of over 80 million.
The Instagram CEO’s apology to its user does not mean that the uploaded photos are ‘not going to be used’ to sell ads, but that the plans are going to be put forth to the users in probably a subtler and ‘not so easily decipherable’ language. So at some point in the near future, the photo of you relishing a cupcake might still be sold to advertisers, only you wouldn’t know you are a part of the campaign and neither would you be compensated for it.
We share a large part of our private lives online and concerns of user privacy have been growing for a long while now. We are certainly aware of how Facebook uses our personal information to promote ads and the ownership rights related to our online content. This is the hard truth of online businesses and they are justified in monetizing their content. However, the recent uproar has served as a much needed wake-up call. How much are we willing to forego our online privacy for convenience and greater social connectivity?
Applications like Flicker have been reliable and done a good job of protecting our privacy, atleast so far. Others like Hipstamatic(paid app), Snapseed or the latest Poke app released by Facebook which lets users share content that are available only for a few seconds are certainly worth exploring as alternatives to Instagram.
What photo sharing apps do you use? If you are an Instagram user, would you continue to stay with the app or do you think it is time to jump ship?