Well that didn’t last long.
Earlier this year Facebook, which is now a publically traded company, purchased Instagram for $715 million dollars, after everything was said and done. At the time, the company was only 2 years old.
The move to monetize Instagram comes from Facebook’s lack of fiscal prowess and lackluster stock performance. Nevertheless, in recent days, people have taken active steps in controlling their ‘destinies’ and the way companies treat individual’s rights.
I personally applaud the user base of Instagram for their response with the caviot; you can’t get something for nothing. Most large internet and social app organizations fund themselves at the users’ expense via the selling of usage data, ambiguous user information or use patterns. Facebook was just asking for the universe to see how Instagram’s multi-million users would respond. I also commend the teachers (namely those with pensions funding Cerebrus) who, in response to Sandy Hook, have taken down the manufacturer of the assualt rifle used in the deplorable incident. The caviot there? It won’t stop violence, crazy people or innocents being lost. But both of these event show that we, as a collection of citizens, have the power to influence corporate change; if the collective ‘we’ are loud enough.
The thing about Facebook/Instagram’s attempt is that it is not the end. Change is definitely coming. They shot for the universe and failed, but will settle for the stars or even the moon. User-generated content, specifically images, are extremely value as a commodity if they can be cultivated, copyrighted, packaged and sold. Imagine that this attempt had succeeded, pictures taken of your pizza from Saturday night may have be taken from your Instagram account, sold to say… Papa Johns (I hate them btw, but damn good pizza), copyrighted by the company and used by them in marketing and advertisements.
How much does your image cost to produce? $0, but it could potentially net hundreds for a large organization. In this attempt users received no credit or compensation; don’t be surprised if the next attempt to monetize the widely popular website, some type of commercial solution such as an option to make images available to companies becomes an option – with comparable compensation. Just another Flickr or iStock at that point.
Instagram is fixing to loose users to gain money; is it worth it? Is it worth loosing what made them so great in the first place?*
*For the record, I don’t have a Instagram, never have and never will**. Opinion is based on talking with users and an outsiders point-of-view. I don’t use it mainly because my phone sucks and can’t handle Facebook’s sucky app or mobile version as is; Instagram would create a black hole in the palm of my hand.
**UPDATE: Never say never… I happen to have signed up since making this post. And, while it hasn’t blown my socks off, I do enjoy the occasional share and seeing awesome photography, cosplay, and interior designs. (my little insta)