I am not a professional photographer, but Instagram has given me the ability to at least pretend to be one. All I have to do is point, shoot, filter, and frame, and viola, I am awash in a “Kelvin” or “1977″ glow, complete with a caption that pithily captures the essence of the moment, or for a blogger the “wordless Wednesday” moment, just the photo alone in all it’s “X-Pro II” glory. Often when I take a photo everyone immediately asks are you going to Instagram that? Because we all secretly think we just look…better…with a filter and soft focus of course.
I’m not so much an “Instagramaholic” that I post a photo every day, and I have no illusion that of the 803 photos that currently exist on my page, there are only a few that have any relevance or significance to others. I mean, most (if not all) of my photos are of:
• My cats
• My dog
• My breakfast
• My lunch
• My dinner
• Me in a hat
I follow friends who are avid, professional photographers and bloggers, who actively use Instagram as part of their branding and business. There are numerous “theme” postings that take place, where my thread will be filled with photos of:
• Anything the color orange
• Coffee cups
• Cats in socks sitting next to or in an orange coffee cup casting an interesting shadow
But yesterday when Instagram announced their new terms of service, there was a collective social media waving of a fist in the air, and users were both outraged (those that understood the fine print) and confused (those that did not–I fall well into the latter category). According to The New York Times’s Bits Blog, Instagram will be able to share user information with potential advertisers, similar to what Facebook has done. This also means that you (your image, your image of your, cat or even your taco platter) could appear in an advertisement. And the only way to opt out of all the changes is to, well, opt out.
So yesterday and today, one by one, those faithful to Instagram, who no doubt were once excited by the new Facebookesque timeline page (which I admit, does very little for me, since you actually have no control over which images are chosen to be featured) got busy downloading their images until their photo count read zero and hit delete, thus closing their Instagram account forever.
And perhaps because of this mass exodus, Instagram announced today a “clarification” to the announcement of the new terms (which you can read about in the Huffington Post). Again, lots of legalize language about which party owns what part, and how your account (and images) will always belong to the user, but most definitely an attempt to reassure all of us that what is ours will always be ours…until it is really no longer ours after January 16, 2013.
So at the end of this 24 hours of questioning “will I or won’t I?” in regards to downloading and deleting, I haven’t done anything one way or the other. Because no doubt something will change again tomorrow. And then the day after that.
Something will keep changing because the concepts of intellectual property or even privacy exist in a grey area when it comes to social media. Once you sign up for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or any other such social networking sites, you have already agreed (to some degree) that your work, words, and world, are really no longer your own. You can press “friend only” when making a post on Facebook, but that doesn’t stop your friend from sharing with their friends, who share with their friends, and so on, until you might have well as made it a public post in the first place.
And isn’t the point of Instagram to share your vision of the world? To share with friends how:
• Your feet look by the ocean
• Your holiday cookies or cupcakes look before the class party
• Your cute kids/cat/dog/hamster looks dressed in their fancy party clothes?
And while I too want private to be private the only way one can actually ever insure that it stays private is to never post it anywhere at anytime.
So, while we all contemplating opting out and opting in to another photo share site, we might want to start thinking of what might be coming next. (Here’s a clue: Autoplay videos on FaceBook in April 2013.)
Dislike button anyone?