Well the day has come. If you have not deleted your account then you have agreed to Instagrams new terms of service. Do you remember the hoopla made just before Christmas about Instagram wanting to steal your images? Do you remember the threats that people were going to leave the social media site?
I think that now we have passed the 30 day deadline for people to choose to opt in or delete their account, there is still some misinformation about what really has changed. I was sat watching BBC World News yesterday when they replayed an old interview back from December to go along with an update of their story.
I would agree that Instagram made a huge PR mess; first by just releasing new terms and conditions with a bad choice of words, that made the intentions of the company more dubious. Secondly it took them a while to come back and clarify the situation, by the time they did counter the arguments the blogosphere had exploded and mainstream media was on the story.
For me the changes are clear. Yes Instagram want to use users’ images, but not in the way people thought originally. The use of the images is to allow companies to create accounts, you can then follow the company and your profile image will be used to show your followers that you follow this company. This is a form of advertising and it is internal to the site not external. The original terms of service that Instagram published made it seems that the images would become part of a huge social media image library. The second change in the terms of service is to enable Instagram to fight spam more easily and there is a lot of spamming on Instagram.
I think that for a generation of people they have been used to social networks being free, a site trying to make money seems against the notion of the site.
The fact is they are a business even if it is a start-up. There comes a point when everybody who has invested money into this site will want their money back plus a little bit more. The sites have running costs that also have to be met. Places like Facebook and Instagram need to monetize the sites.
The Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom has said that he doesn’t want adverts on Instagram. I for one agree it wouldn’t work with the style of the app, also they are annoying. Facebook does have adverts though you don’t really notice them so much.
To make money from the sites the companies need to use the asset that they have (information/pictures) and use them or put up a pay wall.
The statistics show an interesting trend for the last 30 days. It seems that the number of monthly active users has grown from 41 million to 49 million but the number of users who are using the site daily has dropped from 15 million to 4 million.
Instagram user figures are always slightly inflated as there is a trend among some users to create ghost accounts to boost followers. Just because there are more monthly users does not mean there are more accounts. The BBC was reporting yesterday a drop of 47% in accounts but Instagram denies this statistic.
The revised terms of service plus the blog post by Instagram both have satisfied my nervousness about the changes. Though this is a theme that has run through my blog posts this week; Read your terms of service and keep on top of them when changes happen.
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