I love Instagram. Being a genuinely terrible photographer, Instagram allows me to take photos of all my meals, “edit” them using weird little filters to make every dish appear to be laced with LSD and then post them so the world can know how many calories I eat in a day. (And also how often I hang out with my cat.) Basically, Instagram photos allow us all to have that special little feeling that we’re “good” at taking pictures because they look pretty, and I believe that ignorance is sometimes bliss.
Speaking of blissful ignorance, guess what your dreamy pictures can now be used for? Ads! According to the extremely popular app’s new terms of service, Instagram now has a clause giving them the right to turn users’ photos into advertisements — without asking permission or offering compensation. Having recently been purchased by Facebook, some are speculating that this is the first measure the massive company will be taking to make some money off of one of the world’s most vanity-inducing creations.
“Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos,” said Instagram founder Kevin Systrom. “We respect that your photos are your photos. Period.”
Regardless of Systrom’s reassurance, people have been damn upset about the changes, outraged that their personal pictures could potentially be used by others for ads they never consented to. They’ve posted photos on Instagram’s Facebook page, called for protests, threatened to take their snapshots of tree silhouettes against sunsets elsewhere… but let’s be honest here. This doesn’t actually matter. This will not change just about anything.
Remember how annoyed people were when Facebook altered its structure to have comments and info separate? They were livid! “FUCK FACEBOOK,” read about 8 million obnoxious statuses upon my newsfeed — another portion of the site that has been controversial altered numerous times. Oh, and Facebook Timeline? So many people were all sorts of upset about having to, uh, pick a photo to be at the top of the screen.
Oh, wait. There are still nearly 170 million fucking Americans on Facebook. On an even more applicable note, people absolutely hate the fact that Facebook has access to (and will take advantage of) your personal information, often falsely assuming that posting a “warning” of sorts could actually stop one of the biggest companies in the world (it won’t). And yet, as I said, millions and millions and millions of people are still on the site, not particularly giving a shit because they still benefit from and wish to partake in the service that Facebook provides.
I’m not saying that this isn’t an asshole move on Instagram’s part. I am, however, being realistic when I say this probably won’t change nearly anything in regard to use or policy. Perhaps they’ll issue an official apology — maybe even alter their wording! But chances are, they won’t really feel the need to. But feel free to say, “I told you so” if they start getting all purposefully moral and whatnot. It’s not that I think they shouldn’t, it’s that I think they won’t. Call me pessimistic, but our generation is not known for its continuous devotion and attention span regarding social issues, and giant companies are not known for their ability to give a shit when they don’t absolutely have to.
Man, why can’t we just threaten to protest when people call us sluts like everybody else?
Photos: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Instagram (well, and me, but they clearly own it anyway)