By now you’ve probably heard that Instagram, the photo sharing social network, which is owned by Facebook, has decided it owns your photos instead of you and can use them in ads or anywhere else without permission. Oh and it doesn’t matter if you’re a minor — and if you don’t like it, you can leave.
Other sites have tried this in the past and the hue and cry has been loud and swift, just as it has been today. Instagram didn’t make a lot of friends and influence people a couple of weeks ago when they made it more difficult to share photos on Twitter. Now, they pull out these terms of service.
Let me say this clearly and in no uncertain terms. If Instagram does not back down from this ignorant attempt to monetize the service, it will go the way of My Space and Friendster. It will be one of those services that was around for a while and then died a quick death. Photos are not ordinary content. They are extensions of our lives and are extremely personal. We share them with friends and family because we choose to. Perhaps we leave them open to the public because we choose to, but regardless of the type of content, the first rule of every social network is that your content belongs to you.
Let me repeat that: Your content belongs to you. If you want to make it public, it means anyone can see it, but it still belongs to you.
If Instagram insists on going through with this, it’s committing social media suicide and Facebook will be lucky to get pennies on the dollar when it tosses its useless dead carcass by the side of the road in April.
I fully expect Instagram to back down by the end of the week. Of course, it’s interesting that it’s in the same week that Flickr released an all-new and much more content owner friendly iPhone version of the long-time program. There are reasonable alternatives, Instagram. Just saying.
Update: As I predicted, Instagram has responded to the outcry over their terms of service and have stated the magic words: “ Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos.”