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December 18, 2012 1:39 AM   Subscribe

On December 5th, Instagram's founder Kevin Systrom announced that Instagram would cut support for Twitter cards. On December 10th, Twitter updated its mobile apps to include Instagram-like photo filters. On December 12th, Flickr did too. On December 16th, the New York Times reported that Systrom may have perjured himself during the process of selling Instagram to Facebook. On December 17th, Instagram updated its terms of use to announce, among other changes, that its users now
"agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you."
In response, Wired has posted How to Download Your Instagram Photos and Kill Your Account. Previously.
posted by davidjmcgee (192 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Looks like the standard boilerplate that these sorts of services seem to use (going back to the Geocities era). If I used Instragram I'd be more concerned, but we see this sort of froofraw from time to time.

I'm yet to see anything bad come of it, although I expect that to happen someday. Probably someday soon.

-This comment brought to you by Slurm Cola-
posted by Mezentian at 2:23 AM on December 18, 2012


I'm yet to see anything bad come of it,

My timeline is saying things like "Instagram announces they don't give a f**K about users, going back to Flickr" etc
posted by infini at 2:56 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Instagram is the visual equivalent of Autotune. If it crawls away and dies in a ditch, I hope a toad widdles on the corpse.
posted by Devonian at 3:00 AM on December 18, 2012 [74 favorites]


Did your timeline not say similar things about Flickr when that went through its changes?
I admit, I don't see the appeal of Instagram (and that's before the filters), aside from the ability to post images to Facebook and Twitter -- although I gather there is an Instagram community that stands alone.

Instagram is a verb now.
posted by Mezentian at 3:03 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is why we can't have nice things: Internet startups offer a simple, social service and don't charge for it. They collect millions of users and get bought-out by larger companies. Then they are obliged to make money, and in doing so, alienate all their users.

What I mean by this is that any Internet startup that doesn't start making money from its very first user is guaranteed to become a site you eventually do not want to be associated with.
posted by sixohsix at 3:04 AM on December 18, 2012 [92 favorites]


I downloaded the Instagram app a few years ago, but never got around to making an account. The usernames I wanted were gone, and I couldn't think of an alternative one I was happy with, so I put off actually making an account. This news makes me feel better about this.
posted by acb at 3:07 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is a shame. I've been using Instagram sporadically over the last year or so, recently more frequently as I've discovered friends who are also using it. It's a really nice way to share a quick image from your life; I generally use it to capture various bits of London architecture that I would normally walk straight past. I like the aesthetics of the filters and the way it can turn something mundane into a picture that's pleasing to the eye. I think I would have stayed with it without these TOS changes. I don't particularly relish the idea of my personal (locked) photos turning up somewhere without my permission.

Mefites with fingers on the pulse: what would you recommend as a replacement app?
posted by fight or flight at 3:23 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


OH WELL INTERNET NO MORE SEPIA-TINGED SHOTS OF MY JUNK 4 U LATERZZZ
posted by bardic at 3:32 AM on December 18, 2012 [33 favorites]


I like instagram for just the reasons fight or flight mentions. Probably will drop them as most of my photos were of things in my life. Mind you, they're crappy photos, so it's doubtful they'd turn up anywhere, but still.
posted by maxwelton at 3:40 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


fight or flight, there's pudding camera that later added a separate app called pudding.to which makes the whole experience more social if you want. Another camera app I like is Little Photo.
posted by redindiaink at 3:49 AM on December 18, 2012


Just deleted my account this morning. Yea they were only a handful of crappy pics but its still the whole thought that bugs me.
I know it's not free but I love the camera+ app on my iPhone. It's pretty deep and they even added Instagram-y filters in the last update
posted by ShawnString at 4:00 AM on December 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


I just saw this and came to see if it had been posted yet. (Just the TOS thing, not the perjury stuff)
Looks like the standard boilerplate that these sorts of services seem to use (going back to the Geocities era). If I used Instragram I'd be more concerned, but we see this sort of froofraw from time to time.
If it was standard then it would have already been there.

The fact that they just added it means they definitely want to start using it.
posted by delmoi at 4:07 AM on December 18, 2012 [34 favorites]


Then they are obliged to make money, and in doing so, alienate all their users.

Only if by "All" you mean users who read the TOS or tech sites. Maybe it might make it to major news outlets.
posted by delmoi at 4:12 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Did your timeline not say similar things about Flickr when that went through its changes?

Not quite in the same way. I remember when [redacted] was thrilled to tell us that Flickr had gone gamma... sure, I bitched about the new UI and what not but as someone who will take 300 odd pix a day on the road, Flickr has not only managed to serve my needs well (social is a choice, everything need not be social) for the past 7 years, it enables my need to protect my ownership of said images.

This Instragram thing is more in line with FB type stuff, not design changes that the userbase complains about.
posted by infini at 4:14 AM on December 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Feel free to panic if you want. I stopped caring about TOS changes a few years ago because 1) I have no evidence that they lead to anything especially nightmarish, and 2) I've been on the lawyering/drafting side. I have every reason to believe that this expanded language was at Facebook's insistence, and we all know their lawyers are overly zealous and tone-deaf about drafting broad language even if it risks causing public outcry. I highly doubt Instagram is turning into a photo auction service.
posted by naju at 4:16 AM on December 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


I assume the celebs who use Instagram won't want their likeness being used to promote some brand that happened to appear in a photo they posted without compensation..
posted by PenDevil at 4:21 AM on December 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


> Instagram is the visual equivalent of Autotune.

Autotune gave us Autotune the News and the double-rainbow song, which means it did not live in vain.
posted by jfuller at 4:25 AM on December 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


FWIW, Hacker News has a thread on this that is a bit more in depth in bits and pieces. This is different from the 'standard' TOS language that most sites use (and Instagram used before this update) in that it gives them the right to sub-license your pictures and charge others for using them in ads and it now applies to your 'private' photos as well as your public photos.

The generic TOS is just a CYA thing, giving a site permission to display, transmit, convert, etc. all the things they need to do to keep and display your stuff for you. This TOS is a "we can sell and license all your stuff to other businesses and there's nothing you can do about it".
posted by zengargoyle at 4:30 AM on December 18, 2012 [19 favorites]


I've been on the lawyering/drafting side. I have every reason to believe that this expanded language was at Facebook's insistence

Uh, how does that make it better? Facebook is a part of Instagram, I mean... the question is what are they going to do, not how they feel about it. It doesn't really matter if they were "forced" into it or not - it doesn't even really make sense to distinguish them.
posted by delmoi at 4:31 AM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


the question is what are they going to do, not how they feel about it.

Well, the important part was what you snipped from my quote, which is that we've seen Facebook constantly draft broad language and panicked about it a dozen times in the past few years, and I haven't seen anything particularly nightmarish come of it. Not that Facebook won't turn Instagram into a dystopian capitalist wasteland, but I'm not personally concerned about it.
posted by naju at 4:38 AM on December 18, 2012


Doesn't Flickr own your photos and use/sell them as it wishes? For whatever reason it wishes? So this would make instagram the new flickr.

Doesn't surprise me in the least - "we the people" - hahaha as if the people have any control over how the corporations treat them.
posted by marienbad at 4:40 AM on December 18, 2012


Half the images I've posted to Instagram are my kids. I don't want those pictures overlaid with an ad for car insurance or flat stomachs or Trojans and displayed to my acquaintances. Google, creepy as they are, only displays the ads alongside the content, and demarcates it.

What I liked about Instagram was the constraints and simplicity - I'd rather see a picture telling my that my friend was in Budapest for the weekend than see a "check-in" somewhere. Oh well.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 4:41 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Doesn't Flickr own your photos and use/sell them as it wishes? For whatever reason it wishes? So this would make instagram the new flickr.

Afaik, no.
posted by infini at 4:43 AM on December 18, 2012 [15 favorites]


I'm quite at ease with the internet slightly hyperventilating about this sort of thing. It's an allergic response to being boiled slowly.

Of course, we should all pick over and consider the ramifications of every EULA we've ever clicked 'agree' to, but none of us, even in the slightest, has the resources to do so. So let's stay wary of small diff changes to a 14 page T&C's when it's brought to our attention.
posted by panaceanot at 4:44 AM on December 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


By the way, google's iOS photo editing app, Snapseed, is now available for free. I would usually edit in that or camera plus before posting.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 4:44 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I draft these myself, and it's pretty damn broad. As written, it does not appear to limit the use of your stuff to "paid or sponsored contests and promotions" on Instagram/Facebook, but allows use for any promotion, anywhere, by any business. If that's not the intent, they need to revise for clarification. If it is, it's nasty.
posted by schoolgirl report at 4:47 AM on December 18, 2012 [18 favorites]


I have not really followed much of this. What was so awful about Flickr in the first place? Is it just that something newer and hipper came along?
posted by Legomancer at 4:49 AM on December 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


This reminds me of something from The Web We Lost:
In the early days of the social web, there was a broad expectation that regular people might own their own identities by having their own websites, instead of being dependent on a few big sites to host their online identity. In this vision, you would own your own domain name and have complete control over its contents, rather than having a handle tacked on to the end of a huge company's site. This was a sensible reaction to the realization that big sites rise and fall in popularity, but that regular people need an identity that persists longer than those sites do.
We really need to go back to that model. Web hosting is cheap, plentiful and almost entirely under your control. There's absolutely no reason to cede your data, privacy, and identity to an entity whose entire business model is built around exploiting those things for profit.

There shouldn't be any Instagrams. There should only be Instagram-like web apps that you install to your own domain.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:50 AM on December 18, 2012 [45 favorites]


As far as I can tell... Yahoo dropped the 'integrate into these juggernaught social media platforms' ball and Flickr stagnated as a really good service for sharing your photos as opposed to handing them over to data-mining ad-monetized your-content-selling behemoths* and are therefore irrelevant in this Brave New World.

*because Yahoo doesn't have the chops to be that hardcore.
posted by panaceanot at 4:54 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I don't want to fuck around with installing apps or hosting a domain or any of that shit. What even do those words mean? I want to click a button, and I'd rather not even have to do that." -- 99% of the users of the Internet.

You cannot fight this tide; you can either run ashore and hide from it, or you can put down a wave energy harvester and become a billionaire at 26.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:54 AM on December 18, 2012 [30 favorites]


Doesn't Flickr own your photos and use/sell them as it wishes? For whatever reason it wishes? So this would make instagram the new flickr.

No. IIRC, there was a TOS change a few years ago with language that suggested that this might be the case, but it was reversed pretty quickly. Given that a big chunk of Flickr's audience are serious photographers, who fund the site by buying pro accounts, them reserving the right to sell your photos to ad agencies would be the kiss of death.

I have not really followed much of this. What was so awful about Flickr in the first place? Is it just that something newer and hipper came along?

From what I understand, everything was going brilliantly until Yahoo! bought it, the founders left and the site stagnated under the neglect of a company run by people who had missed the boat. Then Twitter came along, Photobucket/Yfrog/Imgur did to old-school photo-sharing sites what MySpace did to Friendster, and then everyone got iPhones and Instagram came along; meanwhile, Flickr slept...
posted by acb at 4:55 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


...but it was watched over lovingly while it snored by millions of aging web 2.0 leftovers who still appreciated the spirit of its origin.

Intresting tweet on what the difference is mentions the fact that Flickr lets you upload photographs taken outside of the application itself. Using cameras.

Hey flickr, your new uploader and the link back to the old instead...? IT's broken!
posted by infini at 5:00 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


We really need to go back to that model. Web hosting is cheap, plentiful and almost entirely under your control. There's absolutely no reason to cede your data, privacy, and identity to an entity whose entire business model is built around exploiting those things for profit.

There shouldn't be any Instagrams. There should only be Instagram-like web apps that you install to your own domain.


Of course, if everybody's running their own site, the 99.9% who aren't paranoid security wonks will get pwned by the Ukranian Mafiya within hours of putting up their first batch of party photos. If you can't be bothered keeping up to date with threat advisories, knowing exactly what each component of your system is doing at any one time, and upgrading libraries and their dependencies every time a buffer overrun or privilege escalation is found, you'd want to pay someone to do that for you, i.e., pay for a site hosted by someone who knows what they're doing, and (unlike Facebook, Google, Instagram), whose interests align with yours. The way to achieve the last point is to pay them for hosting the site for you rather than letting them give you a free ride while they think how much they can make out of you.
posted by acb at 5:00 AM on December 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


It's an allergic response to being boiled slowly

If you put a frog in a pot of cold water, put in on the heat, and wait for the water to boil, you know what happens? The frog jumps out. Every time. I don't know if that's true for the social media user, though.
posted by thelonius at 5:07 AM on December 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


Instagram is a verb now.

That's true. In fact, Fat Joe would like us to "Instagram that Hoe"
posted by to sir with millipedes at 5:09 AM on December 18, 2012


If the pot of gradually warming water looks like a big hot tub and all your friends are there, are you going to be the antisocial killjoy and/or paranoid crank who jumps out because OMG IT'S A TRAP?
posted by acb at 5:10 AM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Instagram is a verb now.

I described a record once as “as twee as Zooey Deschanel instagramming a cupcake”.
It wasn't a record I liked much, btw.
posted by acb at 5:11 AM on December 18, 2012 [17 favorites]


I want to know what this record was.
posted by marienbad at 5:19 AM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


paranoid cranks represent!
posted by infini at 5:21 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course, if everybody's running their own site, the 99.9% who aren't paranoid security wonks will get pwned by the Ukranian Mafiya within hours of putting up their first batch of party photos.

But don't we have the same problem with computers connected to the internet?

Nevermind. I just realized that the move towards embedded devices and app stores is the coming solution to this problem and roughly analogous to your argument.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:22 AM on December 18, 2012


I have a Phone of Shame at the moment, so I can't use Twitter on a device that also has a camera attached to it for the moment. That, and thinking that if I wanted that effect I'd photograph my coffee with a Diana Mini and have done with it, meant that I'm not using Instagram. I was coming round to the idea, until this. Moaning about user terms of service is one thing, but people do not want their images used and attributed without their permission, for whatever reason.

I work in advertising, and my role as a regulator means I have to be pretty much neutral in the public sense - as my Twitter account has my name on it, I can't criticise ads publicly, but there's no problem with me saying I like or dislike something when it's clearly my view, and I have control over what I say which means I can say it in a way which doesn't suggest bias. One thing we're not allowed to do, though, is appear in advertising ourselves as this would compromise our professional positions. (I've been approached for the rights to reproduce one of my photographs in a book - it was cut in the end - and I've done portraits as a favour for people, but I doubt we'd be allowed to sell our work to an ad agency for similar reasons, which is why my Flickr account didn't have Creative Commons licensing.) There's been a huge disagreement with an advertiser recently where we were (erroneously) accused of being biased against a competitor, and I can't imagine the shitstorm that would follow if my face appeared on an ad for Competitor Brand X because Instagram decided it would look pretty and didn't give me the option to disagree.
posted by mippy at 5:23 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not a crank, mind - I don't use Facebook, but that's for reasons unrelated to privacy. I never had a privacy concern when I did use it, because I only inputted data that I was happy to be in the public domain anyway - I'd never put my address or phone number online, for example, but every time I swipe my Clubcard at Tesco they learn more about my purchasing habits than clicking 'Like' on a page would tell somebody.
posted by mippy at 5:25 AM on December 18, 2012


FUTURE HIPSTER 1: "I remember when Instagram was INSTA-gram. Ya know."
*drinks coffee from seahorse shaped coffee-mug*
FUTURE HIPSTER 2: "I miss 'earlybird' & 'valencia' the most."
FUTURE HIPSTER 1: "Me too guy. Me too guy."
posted by Fizz at 5:25 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


FWIW, Hacker News has a thread on this that is a bit more in depth in bits and pieces. This is different from the 'standard' TOS language that most sites use (and Instagram used before this update) in that it gives them the right to sub-license your pictures and charge others for using them in ads and it now applies to your 'private' photos as well as your public photos.

This. Normally, sites give themselves a permanent and non-revocable license to store and modify your content for their own purposes. This doesn't mean they own the content, but they can do with it what they like within the context of their own business, and you can't stop them doing it, quite often even if you quit the service and delete your content - they get to keep a copy.

With this change though, Instagram can sublicense your photos out to other companies for profit. Professional photogs have been complaining for a while about free creative commons stuff on flickr and other places that reduces their ability to make a living from stock photography. With this change, instagram can set themselves up as a new istockphoto - individual photos can go for hundreds or thousands per licence.

Let's say 99.99% of photos posted to instagram are crap; that still means 1 in 10,000 is worth something. They've got a billion photos uploaded; that's a million 'good' photos that can now be licenced out to newspapers, ad campaigns, magazines, online pubs, brick-n-mortar shop posters etc etc.

Facebook bought instagram for a billion dollars, and facebook itself is of course now publicly traded - and they have to show the stockholders they're actually going to make money off of instagram. Pushing ads to mobile devices has pretty low value these days, so monetizing the photos directly obviously looks like an attractive option to make some bank. Especially since there's a higher probability of photos around current events, so for news orgs that don't have a staff photog on site (if they even have a staff photog) they can just grab one that doesn't suck from the vast number of different people having a go.

Think million monkeys on typewriters, except simpler; at least the camera does a lot of the work, you just need to point it in the right direction. Just through sheer luck and weight of numbers, some people are going to get good snaps. They might not be suitable for a massive blow-up on a poster campaign due to crappy sensors and lenses, but a good smartphone camera can give a point-n-shoot a run for its money these days, and more and more amateurs have SLRs these days to boot. Good enough for web-use, at least.

The worst aspect is that this also applies to private photos, not just public ones - would you mind if your private photo ended up plastered on posters in an ad campaign in say, Poland, with Instagram being the one getting paid for it?
posted by ArkhanJG at 5:28 AM on December 18, 2012 [20 favorites]


at least the camera does a lot of the work, you just need to point it in the right direction.

.
posted by infini at 5:36 AM on December 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


OH WELL INTERNET NO MORE SEPIA-TINGED SHOTS OF MY JUNK 4 U LATERZZZ

No worries, there's plenty of squid in the sea.
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:37 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


We really need to go back to that model. Web hosting is cheap, plentiful and almost entirely under your control.

Apples and oranges.

When you maintain your own website with a webhost, you manage software (e.g., Wordpress, Image Gallery, etc.). Even the :"control panels" that web hosts uses still require the end user to do the installation and some basic configuration of these software packages.

When you use Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, you are using a service. Installation of an app on your mobile device requires a level of technical knowledge that is statistically indistinguishable from zero.

This is a huge difference.

More importantly, people want services like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. The squllions of happy and satisfied and content users of these services had made the decision that the value they provide is worth what they're being asked to give up. You may not agree with that decision, but that doesn't mean that those people are stupid, or have been hoodwinked. I'm fully aware that these services are using the data I provide to make money. I'm okay with this, because it means that I get access to free services.

There is a growing chorus of voices who think that people who are okay with this value proposition are deficient, not making informed decisions or shouldn't be trusted with their own affairs. "People who disagree with me are stupid" is a toxic form of elitism.
posted by DWRoelands at 5:47 AM on December 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


I find it odd how frequently people mention Flickr without noting that they have something Instagram never had: a plausible business model. Flickr isn't as revenue-focused as services like Smugmug but selling pro memberships gives them a solid revenue stream which isn't dependent on reselling your data. (I suspect this revenue stream might be what's prevented them from being completely Yahoo-ed)

If this matters to you, pay for your hosting today.
posted by adamsc at 5:50 AM on December 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


I have not really followed much of this. What was so awful about Flickr in the first place? Is it just that something newer and hipper came along?

What was so awful about pay $20/yr for a little domain name + server space, hosting them yourself and never having to worry about any of this?
posted by DU at 6:03 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


If this stops all the restaurants I follow on twitter from posting food pictures using weird Instagram filters I'm all for it. How this became a thing I'll never know.
posted by Runes at 6:05 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll use a Yahoo project just as soon as they compensate the Chinese dissidents for five years of their lives spent in prison. I was hoping Instagram would kill off Flickr; perhaps something else will now.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 6:05 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't use Instagram, and now I'm glad I don't. However, a ton of my college students (and lots of other friends) do, and they post a lot of pictures of friends and social events, etc. So what happens if Instagram sells one of those group photos but no one has signed a model release? Who gets sued then?
posted by MultiFaceted at 6:09 AM on December 18, 2012


I don't think it's impossible that one day a webhosting company will figure out a way to make running your own web site feel more like a service in terms of simplicity and outright convenience. It would be difficult, but not impossible. The main difficulty would be that the hosting company would essentially have to create their own hosting software, in order to control their users' experience as thoroughly as possible.

In fact, some web sites already do essentially this. Tumblr is a web host that you can run on your own domain and make look like anything you want. It's hugely versatile. And companies like Weebly also do the "make your own web site" thing. But we haven't yet seen the company that will actually open up the server space you're using and give you the freedom to do whatever you please, turn off whichever guidelines you don't like, and go about making your Tumblr/Instagram/Facebook/whatever instance into exactly the site you want it to be.

I'd put money on this becoming a thing. I'd like to say it'll be a big thing, too, the sort of thing that revolutionizes the way people use the Internet and publish to it and read it, but I don't know if I'm that certain. I think a company in that space could become the next Apple in the sense that they both control hardware and user experience, and would be free to design their own intercommerce system for users to purchase new functionality from third-party developers.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:12 AM on December 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


I draft these myself, and it's pretty damn broad. As written, it does not appear to limit the use of your stuff to "paid or sponsored contests and promotions" on Instagram/Facebook, but allows use for any promotion, anywhere, by any business. If that's not the intent, they need to revise for clarification. If it is, it's nasty.

Yeah, they really need to clear up the grammatical subject of the verb "to display" in that sentence.

Hopefully the first time they actually try to use their right to sell their users' photos and likenesses, even if it's just to run ads on their own site, the users will respond appropriately.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:14 AM on December 18, 2012


Mezentian:Looks like the standard boilerplate that these sorts of services seem to use (going back to the Geocities era).
marienbad:Doesn't Flickr own your photos and use/sell them as it wishes? For whatever reason it wishes?
I've been looking through Flickr/Yahoo's TOS because of remarks like these. I'm not a lawyer and I have no special expertise or experience reading contracts. But for what little it's worth, if anything like this Instagram change exists in there, it's not obvious to me.

Flickr has for some time included controls for asserting various licenses on a member's photos. The default setting is "Copyright, all rights reserved" for the member, not for Flickr or Yahoo.

Flickr currently includes facilities to allow members to mark photos as available for paid licensing. I've met one person who has actually made a little money this way, a few hundred dollars at a time. That seems very different, in attitude and in effect, from the Instagram changes.
posted by Western Infidels at 6:15 AM on December 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


This is very concerning to photographers who on the whole are so vain that they think companies would want to use their crappy photos. This is a common sentiment among people who need validation through likes.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 6:21 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I don't want to fuck around with installing apps or hosting a domain or any of that shit. What even do those words mean? I want to click a button, and I'd rather not even have to do that." -- 99% of the users of the Internet.

You cannot fight this tide; you can either run ashore and hide from it, or you can put down a wave energy harvester and become a billionaire at 26.


People don't want to eat healthy, exercise, go to the doctor or get edumacated either. That doesn't mean junk food and idiot-TV "entrepreneurs" are the good guys.
posted by DU at 6:23 AM on December 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


What was so awful about pay $20/yr for a little domain name + server space, hosting them yourself and never having to worry about any of this?

I'm all for self-hosting, but dude this is HECK of disingenuous.

First off, very few self-hosting software options are nearly as good-looking or as easy to use as Flickr became very early on. There are still no options for managing your own server's photos that are as convenient to use on mobile devices as Flickr's.

Second off, even accepting the enormous quality bump in software, INSTALLING that software is hugely inconvenient. If you want a feature the base product doesn't have you need to start mucking about with mods, there's a risk of breaking your own service, and even if you use an installation manager like Fantastico you have to deal with upgrades and keeping things running stably. It's a pain in the ass even when you know what you're doing: I'm running a new Drupal install for a project and remembering why I used to be a less happy person when I used Drupal all the time.

But MOST IMPORTANTLY it is really fucking difficult to have social spaces that all exist on separate domains. RSS is about the only way you can do it, and RSS doesn't give you things like centralized notifications and multiple product integrations (like how Instagram pushes to FB and Twitter and Tumblr and takes advantage of all their medium features, except for Twitter's card thingy), and it makes the kinds of interactions that you get in Flickr/Instagram out of the box entirely impossible. Sure, you could PROGRAM collections and photo galleries and groups and tags, but how would you connect your sets to as many people's as Flickr does? Flickr is a terrific SOCIAL space, and Instagram is a different kind of social space that's just as fun. Uploading and management isn't the fucking problem, even though it IS a problem. It's all about connectivity.

I get that you're 40 or 50 or whatever and used the Internet back in the days when it sucked and now you've convinced yourself that the entire last decade of web design was entirely pointless, but, um, it wasn't, and now the web lets people do things that it didn't back in 1999, and acting snooty about how much better your way of doing things doesn't fucking work when your way of doing things is blatantly worse. Web 2.0 is an annoying buzzword but it refers to legitimate innovations that you can't just pretend didn't happen because hipsters were the ones that took advantage of them first.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:25 AM on December 18, 2012 [39 favorites]


People don't want to eat healthy, exercise, go to the doctor or get edumacated either. That doesn't mean junk food and idiot-TV "entrepreneurs" are the good guys.

Oh for fuck's sake.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:27 AM on December 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's not that they will make money from my crappy photos, it's that they can.
posted by tommasz at 6:29 AM on December 18, 2012


What was so awful about pay $20/yr for a little domain name + server space, hosting them yourself and never having to worry about any of this?

Dude, I am currently booting the VM that has my email services.

(On preview, deletes much text)


Rory Marinich nails it. BTW, I am 40 or 50 or whatever, but Rory is still right. I run a mail server because I can -- it's part of my tradecraft. Expecting other people, even most IT people, to run mail/web/photo sharing servers themselves is inane.

However, I do have one gripe....

I get that you're 40 or 50 or whatever and used the Internet back in the days when it sucked

No, it didn't suck. It was an amazing thing that changed how we think. It changed the world. The difference now is there's a lot more money and a lot more pixels.

But we changed the world using little more than 80x24 text screens. Just because you weren't hip enough, or old enough, to be there doesn't mean it wasn't a wonderful thing.

Not to say that what has been done hasn't had its moments, mind you. But it didn't suck.
posted by eriko at 6:31 AM on December 18, 2012 [43 favorites]


I thought the biggest complaint about Flickr was needing a Yahoo account to log in to the site. Even us old-skool pre-yahoo Flickr users had to create yahoo logins to maintain access to our Flickr accounts and that pissed people off because they suspected Yahoo would datamine these new accounts. They can mine the hardpan of a login that I use only ever to get to Flickr if they want -- other than the initial inconvenience, it has had no effect of me whatsoever.

Flickr has a good interface, allows for full resolution viewing, and you can set whatever copyright terms you desire, including fully copyrighted, free use & creative commons. I've been a really happy pro user for many years. Before Flickr, I used to build galleries on my home page and that was a pain in the ass. Hours of setting up javascript actions in GoLive, etc. I really don't want to go back to that. Also, the new Flickr app for iDevices seems really nice so far.

I really kinda don't get Instagram, anyway. You can't even zoom in on pics using the phone app, there's no easy way to link to the full-res versions & from what I can tell the only way to access your account from the web is to manually type your username into the url. It's clunky and not too useful to me, also since most of my pics come off of a 20th-century style camera that doesn't have any built in web access.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:35 AM on December 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Jesus, private pictures, too? That's ballsy. Not quite as ballsy as lying through your teeth under oath to Congress about whether you've had any other offers, formal or otherwise, after the Twitter folks handed you a piece of paper with a half-billion-dollar offer on it, but still pretty ballsy. Maybe they're planning to walk back the private thing as a concession, to make the use of public photos seem more palatable, if the outcry grows. So keep it up if you give a shit, Instagram users.

Related article from September at that Wired link: Instagram Use Is Exploding:

...Instagram’s 7.3 million daily web and app users in August surpassed Twitter’s 6.9 million daily web and app users, the first time that’s happened
posted by mediareport at 6:39 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't start using the web until '98, which is fairly late compared with some of you guys, but no, it didn't suck. I'm a bit nostalgic for it, actually, because it felt a bit less corporate back then even if the cost-effective resources didn't yet exist for people to start creating the brilliant things that Web 2.0 (for want of a better term) brought us. I miss home pages that contained flashing gifs next to some poetry, a page about Just Shoot Me, some pictures of dogs and a guestbook, things people set up not because they ever expected anyone to read it but because they wanted to make their little internet corner. Blogs should have become the new version of this, but the problem is that everyone wants to bloody monetize everything, and the blogs where people review things in exchange for press samples or career exposure seem to outnumber the ones where, to borrow a phrase from my favourite internet forum killed by newspaper comment blogs, you were just belming into the void.
posted by mippy at 6:42 AM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the TOS is abnormal to my eye (have written one or two for a tech startup, am essentially a lawyer but in a very very different field). Here's Flickr's:

With respect to photos, graphics, audio or video you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services other than Yahoo! Groups, the license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on the Yahoo! Services solely for the purpose for which such Content was submitted or made available. This license exists only for as long as you elect to continue to include such Content on the Yahoo! Services and will terminate at the time you remove or Yahoo! removes such Content from the Yahoo! Services.

Instagram has the same-ish clause:
Instagram does NOT claim ANY ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, applications, or any other materials (collectively, "Content") that you post on or through the Instagram Services. By displaying or publishing ("posting") any Content on or through the Instagram Services, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content, including without limitation distributing part or all of the Site in any media formats through any media channels, except Content not shared publicly ("private") will not be distributed outside the Instagram Services.

Which is fine. Instagram also does ads, which is fine. But then we have:
you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.
which is skeezy as hell.

We also have:
You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.
which is not exactly great. Ads disguised as real things? Awesome!
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:43 AM on December 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


I thought the main use for Instagram was that it made your iPhone pictures look cool and old without the expense of actually developing 120 film. I use Twitter a lot but I don't know anyone who uses it in a social networking sense.

I think the latter is what turned me off Flickr - I don;t like 'social networking' as such, I just prefer to follow people who interest me rather than develop a relationship a site decides I should have.
posted by mippy at 6:44 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


But MOST IMPORTANTLY it is really fucking difficult to have social spaces that all exist on separate domains.

Federated services exist now.

People don't want to eat healthy, exercise, go to the doctor or get edumacated either. That doesn't mean junk food and idiot-TV "entrepreneurs" are the good guys.

Oh for fuck's sake.


That's not an argument, that's just more shutting your ears and going LALALALALA when you know what the Right Thing To Do is.
posted by DU at 6:48 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


shutting your ears and going LALALALALA when you know what the Right Thing To Do is.

Come on man, it is fully ridiculous to expect people to do all of that stuff. What you're suggesting isn't the equivalent of wanting people to avoid fast food, it's equivalent to wanting them to home-grow and -farm their entire diet. Paying for a more reasonable host, sure. But scoffing at anyone who doesn't want to host their own domain and run their own site? Come on, man.
posted by ominous_paws at 6:51 AM on December 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


And by host, I mean service to host their images, such as Flickr. Soz.
posted by ominous_paws at 6:52 AM on December 18, 2012


What you're suggesting isn't the equivalent of wanting people to avoid fast food, it's equivalent to wanting them to home-grow and -farm their entire diet.

No, that would be hosting the site at your own house and taking care of the power supply and comm links and stuff.

All I'm suggesting is buying your food in raw form and cooking it. Get a hosting provider. It's simpler than a turnkey system. You just sign up, pay your $TINY and go.
posted by DU at 6:53 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Instagram that hoe
posted by sutt at 6:55 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


You really expect as many people as use Instagram to be able to / want to do that, to the point they have equivalent functionality to Instagram? You're teasing me here.
posted by ominous_paws at 6:56 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a long-time Flickr user with ~15,000 photos there, but I also started using Instagram the minute it came out for Android. For me, Flickr is a place where I archive and show off photos I take with my SLR, carefully selected, developed, tagged, etc. Instagram was for crappy/amusing cell phone pics snapped at a whim and uploaded immediately. It was fun because I wouldn't worry about what I posted there at all, and I knew some people would see them right away. Occasionally I'd tweet/facebook the shot, and move on.

But no more: this is all too icky. Breaking Twitter integration was dumb enough, but this will make me delete my Instagram account. I can go back to uploading cell phone shots to Flickr, and their app has a couple of decent filters as well.

Oh, and the sales thing? Over the years, I've sold a few photos off Flickr and had a few others stolen. But as far as I know it's not baked into Flickr's TOS that that's ok.
posted by muckster at 7:01 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I miss home pages that contained flashing gifs next to some poetry, a page about Just Shoot Me, some pictures of dogs and a guestbook, things people set up not because they ever expected anyone to read it but because they wanted to make their little internet corner. Blogs should have become the new version of this, but the problem is that everyone wants to bloody monetize everything, and the blogs where people review things in exchange for press samples or career exposure seem to outnumber the ones where, to borrow a phrase from my favourite internet forum killed by newspaper comment blogs, you were just belming into the void.

This. I recall going to two blog meetups in pubs in London, several years apart. The first was around 2004, and consisted of about half a dozen people posting who had blogs, in which they posted about their lives, pieces of creative writing or links and commentary about things they found interesting for their own idiosyncratic reasons. It was amateurish, with a garden-shed shabby-genteelness about it, but it had character.

I didn't go to any blog meetups for a few years, but the next one couldn't have been more different. Everybody looked like a real estate agent or marketing professional, and seemed to be fixated on putting their best foot forward. The discussions were not about what they blogged about, their personal stories or anything so amateurish, but about how to get more followers, how to promote oneself, improve SEO and such.

That was the last blog meetup I ever went to.
posted by acb at 7:01 AM on December 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


> All I'm suggesting is buying your food in raw form and cooking it. Get a hosting provider. It's simpler than a turnkey system. You just sign up, pay your $TINY and go.

You mean like paying $44.95 every two years for a Flickr Pro account? That already does everything for me, is actually an established photo service, doesn't require me to maintain backups of a hosted server somewhere, and isnt in beta. And takes copyright and customer protection seriously, since that is how they made their name (and they have a very clear pro vs free breakdown as well).
posted by mrzarquon at 7:06 AM on December 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


lying through your teeth under oath to Congress

Oops, sorry, not Congress. He lied through his teeth to state regulators in California. Still: through his teeth.
posted by mediareport at 7:07 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The squllions of happy and satisfied and content users of these services had made the decision that the value they provide is worth what they're being asked to give up. You may not agree with that decision, but that doesn't mean that those people are stupid, or have been hoodwinked. I'm fully aware that these services are using the data I provide to make money. I'm okay with this, because it means that I get access to free services.

Imho this maybe one of those things that "everyone believes its true" and then data comes to say, ya know, its not. Lets see what changes in the next year or so regarding this...
posted by infini at 7:08 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The host-it-yourself/pay-someone-to-host-it debate seems to come down to self-sufficiency vs. interdependency. And beyond a certain point, self-sufficiency becomes painfully inefficient and impractical for all but the most paranoid survivalists.
posted by acb at 7:13 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I get that you're 40 or 50 or whatever and used the Internet back in the days when it sucked...

I was totally with you up till this point.
posted by Edgewise at 7:14 AM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Just use Flickr" (or, more ridiculously, Snapseed) is like saying "I don't understand why anyone uses Facebook, you can just post text to Pastebin." Instagram isn't just a photo host, it's a network. Every picture I post to Instagram gets cross-posted to Flickr. I think the last time I ever got a like or a comment on a Flickr picture was about two years ago. The last time I got a comment on Flickr from one of my actual real-life friends was never.

Instagram is what my friends use. When I post pictures there, they see them. When I post them on Flickr, no one sees them. I could post them using some kind of self-hosted software on my VPS but no one would see them there either, so what's the point?
posted by enn at 7:16 AM on December 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


A pro Flickr account is not the same thing as uploading to Instagram. Paid services where you are the customer are completely compatible with the do it yourself ethos. Outsourcing is fine. Paying $5 a month for hosting is fine. Doing it all yourself in your basement is fine. They are just different shades of the same idea. You are paying cash for a service to be provided.

The issue with Instagram is that they are specifically acknowledging, in writing, that you are the product, not the customer. You can blow it off as meaningless of you want, but it won't be meaningless when that cute picture of you and and your SO drinking champagne in a hot tub ends up as a Viagra ad.
posted by COD at 7:16 AM on December 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Dude why don't you just photocopy all your pictures and staple them to phone poles around the downtown area? Then you aren't beholden to the man.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:18 AM on December 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


There are a few variants of The Web We Lost. The people who ran their own sites and really, truly owned everything on their site were the pioneers and the geeks, the people who learned how to code in order to share something of their own.

The other part of The Web We Lost was GeoCities and WebRings, buttons and link-trading. That was the precursor to Friendster, MySpace and Facebook. Some people cared enough about internet technology to truly make a little place of their own on the web, while others just wanted to be social online.

Instagram is a social photo app/thing, closely tied to Facebook, the largest social network in the world. Flickr is also a social photo place, but it's own entity. Sure, there is a lot of stupid noise there, too (Your pic is awesome! Join my Nature Is Beautiful group!), but it's not somewhere that you go to share bits of your life and your thoughts with your friends. Instagram wasn't the only way to get photos onto Facebook, but it made it easy, and gave people some customization options.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:20 AM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'd happily pay FaceBook $50 a year to treat me as a customer and act with my best interests at heart.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:20 AM on December 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


I like(d) Instagram because it was a social network that was not based on talking about Obama is a Muslim, Romney is robot, or guns don't kill people, mentally ill people do. Instagram was fun.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:22 AM on December 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Dude why don't you just photocopy all your pictures and staple them to phone poles around the downtown area? Then you aren't beholden to the man.

Even better: lock them in a drawer, and take them out to show to friends you trust when they come calling. That way you won't get Zuckered.
posted by acb at 7:23 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The other part of The Web We Lost was GeoCities and WebRings, buttons and link-trading.

'Twas Ever Thus.
posted by mediareport at 7:32 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think we can all agree that free-market capitalism Ruins Everything. Everything must make Money, everything must justify it's own existence by making a profit, damn whoever gets trampled in the process.
posted by hellojed at 7:34 AM on December 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Only if by "All" you mean users who read the TOS or tech sites. Maybe it might make it to major news outlets.

Third story down on BBC News right now: Instagram seeks right to sell access to photos to advertisers
posted by oulipian at 7:36 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think we can all agree that free-market capitalism Ruins Everything. Everything must make Money, everything must justify it's own existence by making a profit, damn whoever gets trampled in the process.

If you have a proposal for how InstaGram can continue to pay its employees and cover its expenses without making money, I'm sure that there are many folks who would be interested in hearing that. Especially the folks at InstaGram.
posted by DWRoelands at 7:38 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


If the pot of gradually warming water looks like a big hot tub and all your friends are there, are you going to be the antisocial killjoy and/or paranoid crank who jumps out because OMG IT'S A TRAP?

You just gotta make the cool party happen elsewhere. "This hot tub was cool for a while. But now there's champagne and sweet food happening over there." BAM! Kill joy averted, trap evaded.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:40 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I'd happily pay FaceBook $50 a year to treat me as a customer and act with my best interests at heart."

I'd happily pay Facebook $50 to go the fuck away.
posted by sutt at 7:42 AM on December 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


DWRoelands: “If you have a proposal for how InstaGram can continue to pay its employees and cover its expenses without making money, I'm sure that there are many folks who would be interested in hearing that. Especially the folks at InstaGram.”

I guess I can grant that that's a reason why Instagram is forced to turn to free-market capitalism, but it absolutely is not a reason to make this wholesale change to their TOS. Instagram has thirteen freaking employees. It's not like there's some vast legion of people who need to be paid. Hell, Instagram could embed maybe one ad in the feed of every customer per week and they'd probably be able to pay their employees.

I think we should be clear on the fact here: this move was absolutely not about paying Instagram's employees. It was about Facebook wanting to monetize the shit out of Instagram in order to make money for shareholders. Nothing more, nothing less.
posted by koeselitz at 7:45 AM on December 18, 2012 [15 favorites]


You just gotta make the cool party happen elsewhere. "This hot tub was cool for a while. But now there's champagne and sweet food happening over there." BAM! Kill joy averted, trap evaded.

“Hey, Facebook friends: I'm leaving Facebook and deleting my account. If you want to keep in touch with me, I've set up my own social site, at https://joebloggs.me/, where I'll be posting status updates, photos, what I've been listening to, what I've been having for lunch, etc. Email me at joe@joebloggs.me and I'll make you a username and password. Cheers, Joe. x”

You'd have to have Hollywood celebrity-grade charisma to pull something like that of and not be writing/posting on your server for an audience of just yourself. Hell, I posted to my Facebook that I'm resuming posting on my LiveJournal/Dreamwidth, and crickets.
posted by acb at 7:47 AM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you have a proposal for how InstaGram can continue to pay its employees and cover its expenses without making money, I'm sure that there are many folks who would be interested in hearing that. Especially the folks at InstaGram.

Start by not having an IPO. Run a sustainable business, taking in enough money to cover costs and make a modest profit. That way, you can theoretically keep it up indefinitely.

Most small shops run on this model; one generally doesn't open up a shop with a view to running it at a loss and then selling out to Tesco or Starbucks, or running it at a loss, driving the competition out of business and then gouging your captive customers for all they're worth.
posted by acb at 7:49 AM on December 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Er – Instagram hasn't had an IPO. I agree if you mean "start by not taking a probably-wildly-inflated buyout offer from a company that's just had a very controversial IPO."
posted by koeselitz at 7:51 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you have a proposal for how InstaGram can continue to pay its employees and cover its expenses without making money

Like nearly every other app in existence: having a paid version that's ad free, and an ad-embedded free version.
posted by hellojed at 7:52 AM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


It all comes down to how sustainable the model is. Selling a $4.99 iPhone app with unlimited paid-user access may pay the bills at the start, but that money will soon run out and one will have to find another way to get money from one's users. Having an annual subscription fee à la Flickr seems more sustainable and suggests that the site will be around for a while without having to resort to screwing its users.
posted by acb at 7:57 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Serfing the Web.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:06 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


With thirteen employees, I imagine even the $4.99 iPhone app would have been sustainable enough to make all of them very happy. That's if Instagram hadn't sold to Facebook.

Of course, all of this is kind of a moot point now. The Instagram guys found a way to monetize their app pretty quickly, and they did better than any of us would have. Their method for monetizing their app was to sell it to Facebook for a billion dollars. After that, well, that wasn't their concern.
posted by koeselitz at 8:07 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I actually do own a domain, have a Wordpress install, host my own pictures, etc. You know how I notify my family that we've made a new post? I take a screenshot on my phone and post it to Instagram.

I'm a fairly confident Internet user and I barely understand what's happening behind my Wordpress dashboard. The idea of my family members hosting their own site to share their pet pictures is laughable. There's a reason they didn't start using the internet until Facebook came along.
posted by that's how you get ants at 8:09 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


It all comes down to how sustainable the model is. Selling a $4.99 iPhone app with unlimited paid-user access may pay the bills at the start, but that money will soon run out and one will have to find another way to get money from one's users.

There must be more money. (Actually, like Instagram, that story is both literally and figuratively about masturbation.)
posted by The Bellman at 8:13 AM on December 18, 2012


OH WELL INTERNET NO MORE SEPIA-TINGED SHOTS OF MY JUNK 4 U LATERZZZ
posted by bardic at 5:32 AM on December 18


Well, there goes their moneymaking plan.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 8:14 AM on December 18, 2012


When did this affirmation addiction become the norm, become so prevalent?

I mean, even I check my favorite count when I visit MeFi, and if you told my friends and colleagues that they'd be sort of weirded out. Like discovering Doug Stanhope has an extensive collection of LOLcats.

"Pictures of my kids to advertise the NRA, without my permission? Tell me you love me first."

It's like Zuckerberg and co have found a way to stimulate the lizard brain of even the most hardened cynic. It's not just me is it? It feels the same way massive, obsessive consumerism has just become straight up normal.

Maybe I'm just old, maybe it's not slowly getting hotter but every generation has a new baseline for cold water.
posted by fullerine at 8:25 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if it was mentioned already, but Flickr as a hosting service was I suspect unsustainable by itself when it was bought by Yahoo in 2005.

$25/yr for storage, bandwidth (for Flickr, big upload and download), maintenance, new features, staff, ... I'm not sure if a competitor could come along and do that profitably on a subscription basis, especially now when there are free offerings (ad supported).
posted by zippy at 8:30 AM on December 18, 2012


Intresting tweet on what the difference is mentions the fact that Flickr lets you upload photographs taken outside of the application itself. Using cameras.

Instagram lets you upload from the iPhone photo library instead of taking a picture with the app. Unless I'm misunderstanding you.
posted by brundlefly at 8:41 AM on December 18, 2012


With thirteen employees, I imagine even the $4.99 iPhone app would have been sustainable enough to make all of them very happy. That's if Instagram hadn't sold to Facebook.

That's assuming that the user base keeps growing at an accelerating rate. If this is not the case, costs will outstrip revenue, and the firm will, like the starving wolf in an old Looney Tunes animation, start looking at its users and seeing dinner.
posted by acb at 8:42 AM on December 18, 2012


The thing to remember about sites which operate primarily through user-submitted content:

The standard Terms of Service always contain a scary clause, that every 2-3 months some ill-informed tech "journalist" misinterprets as "claiming ownership of your stuff". That clause typically is worded in terms of granting a "non-exclusive license" to do certain things, often "perform, display, etc." type stuff.

That clause is there because it has to be; your stuff is copyrighted, to you, automatically as of the moment of creation, if you live in a Berne Convention country (and if you're reading this, odds are overwhelmingly good that you live in a Berne Convention country). And, well, uploading a photo or whatever to a site? That doesn't actually give the site any kind of permission to display it to your friends, or to make a thumbnailed version of it to list in a gallery, or arguably even to accept the upload and store it, since most sites are using distributed/replicated storage now. There's a slim but not zero chance that they could be held liable for copyright infringement if they did those things without your permission.

So that clause shows up in practically every site's ToS, to cover them legally if you decide for some reason that uploading a picture and saying "show this to my friends" wasn't sufficient license for them to show it to your friends.

What Instagram appears to be adding does go well beyond this, and is quite a bit more problematic; it's asking not just for the necessary license to carry out basic functions without technically infringing copyright; it's asking for the ability to sub-license, etc., which is also necessary sometimes (say, if you want to offer prints of your photos for sale straight from the site, they may need that right in order to let their third-party printer do its job). But is also kinda scary without very clear explanations of what exactly they plan to use it for.
posted by ubernostrum at 8:43 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


$25/yr for storage, bandwidth (for Flickr, big upload and download), maintenance, new features, staff, ... I'm not sure if a competitor could come along and do that profitably on a subscription basis, especially now when there are free offerings (ad supported).

Depends how many users it has. The marginal cost per user per year is going to be considerably less than $25, though the costs start at a fairly high level (you need the infrastructure, bandwidth, staff and such). An artisanal micro-Flickr for a few hundred people may not be runnable sustainably at such a price, but with Flickr's user base, it seems plausible.
posted by acb at 8:44 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ads disguised as real things? Awesome!
Twenty years ago, it seemed like the future was going to be giant billboards everywhere, choking the skies with corporate iconography designed to sell us products. Instead, in 2012, corporations vie for our use as products.
posted by deathpanels at 8:49 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It all comes down to how sustainable the model is.

From most of what I hear about ads vs free w/ads, the Ad versions make more money than the ad free versions. I really hope we can live in a world where everything doesn't have to be a platform for ads.
posted by hellojed at 8:57 AM on December 18, 2012


DU: People don't want to eat healthy, exercise, go to the doctor or get edumacated either. That doesn't mean junk food and idiot-TV "entrepreneurs" are the good guys.

Rory Marinich: I get that you're 40 or 50 or whatever and used the Internet back in the days when it sucked and now you've convinced yourself that the entire last decade of web design was entirely pointless, but, um, it wasn't, and now the web lets people do things that it didn't back in 1999, and acting snooty about how much better your way of doing things doesn't fucking work when your way of doing things is blatantly worse.

Hopefully this conversation hasn't descended too far into "you're lazy and stupid! no, you're old and stupid!" mudslinging to be saved, because I think we're obscuring a large body of common concerns here.

First, ownership. Nobody wants their likeness appearing on those inserts that come with picture frames that you get from Target, but an ideal photo-sharing (or whatever-sharing) service would offer even more extensive ownership rights than that, as with MetaFilter where we retain copyright over our posts. This was a real advantage of the "old" web, and it's foolish not to acknowledge that. It's true that you can still do things the old way if you want to, but the problem is that the popularity of centralized services means that you're going to have a more and more difficult time of getting other people to sign on with your approach, meaning that something like self-hosting can amount to self-ostracization.

Second, ease of use. Sharing photos with your friends is a pretty light-weight, leisure time activity, so it's understandable to expect that people want to deal with the bare minimum of fuss involved in making that happen. Some people value their time in such a way that the investment required to set up their own hosting solution just won't be worth the payoff, and so making some sort of trade with a service that exists to minimize that time is exactly what's necessary to allow those people to share their photos like they want to. This is sort of the ideal case of civilization where specialization of labor allows you to pay somebody to do something that would take you much longer and would probably suck more, and (for the self-hosting proponents) given that the mere fact of your posting here is an indication that you yourself take advantage of that paradigm, I don't see how you can justify drawing an arbitrary line on the axis that runs from "I'm fully self-sufficient" to "I pay for everything" and arguing that everybody who picks a spot a few marks closer to the pay-for-everything end is doing it wrong. DU, you argue that the trade here is kind of a Faustian bargain, and I tend to agree with you, but Rory's right that the decentralized solutions as they stand just don't accomplish the same things. A solution that doesn't compromise either of the two concerns in any major way seems possible, but if we're just going to split into two camps of people that prioritize one over the other and delegitimize the desires of the other camp I'm thinking that it's unlikely that it will ever happen.
posted by invitapriore at 9:00 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mefites with fingers on the pulse: what would you recommend as a replacement app?

Flickr, actually. I wouldn't have until last week, but their new mobile app is better than Instagram. Meyer going to Yahoo has been the best thing to happen to it in, ooh, forever.

Flickr really has it all. It's so old-school and the API is so good that it's really not that far away from running your own server. Except it doesn't have all the ballache of running your own server. In return, you get apps, good social features, reliability, search, etc, etc. Flickr is part of the real web, not a walled garden trapping you for ads like Facebook/Instagram.

There's a reason pros stuck with Flickr even while the hotness left town. Now it really feels like it's coming back. I've had more friend requests on Flickr in the past two days than in the past two years.

Federated services exist now.
No they don't. For values of exist that include "shipped", "work", "have users". Not that I don't want them to, but they're far from being here and ready to go.

You just sign up, pay your $TINY and go.
Where by "go" you mean "do lots of shit that most people can't do". This is a world where people can't cook and won't cook. And that world has created good, healthy, restaurants and eateries to cope with that (and some junk-food outlets too, yes). You can stand outside and wave your "grind your own oats and slaughter your own pigs" sign, but people will just point and laugh.
posted by fightorflight at 9:04 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]




Sepia Junk (SFW).
posted by zerobyproxy at 9:14 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


2019. There I was, flying through the flame-belching smokestacks of DTLA, when what do I see but my own geisha Instagram being used as a giant ad for Tyrell breath mints.
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:23 AM on December 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


But MOST IMPORTANTLY it is really fucking difficult to have social spaces that all exist on separate domains.

It's not as hard as you think: Email, usenet, IRC, and Jabber have all done it. I think we believe it's difficult because nobody is currently doing it with the shiny new technology, but that's because the people paying for the shiny new technology have business models that demand centralization.

The current problem of centralized, walled-garden style social media systems is a function of business concerns and not of technological limitations.

There's an assumption in this thread that putting your own stuff on your own site would have to involve a bunch of high-tech configuration and software installation, but I'm not convinced that's true. There's no reason setting up your own web site has to be any harder than signing up for any other web site.

Consider: one could build a web app that worked an awful lot like a facebook page. You could have a mini blog engine for status updates, a photo gallery system for posting your photos, and a built in feed-reader for tracking other people's status updates. Trackbacks are a well established thing, private messages can be trivially built on top of email, the chat window can use XMPP. All this stuff exists. So imagine that someone packages it up together into one nice slick web app, and then some web hosting company sets up a virtual machine image around it: voila, turn-key self-hosted social networking.

The user experience would not have to be any harder than signing up for Flickr or any other service that does billing: you fill out your name, your credit card details, you pick an "account name" (in this case a domain name), and voila, up comes your new site. $20/year, you own your data, nobody can change the terms of service on you, and you don't have to write a line of code or even know what code is.

So why has nobody done this? Well, nobody wants to compete with Facebook, I'd imagine... but the big problem is simply that Facebook is a walled garden, and there's no way of getting its data out. You can't subscribe to your friends' facebook feeds as RSS streams, you can't use your own chat client to interoperate with Facebook chat via XMPP, you can't (so far as I know) route facebook messages over email.... So all that stuff is locked up inside facebook-world.

It is a business problem and not a technical problem.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:28 AM on December 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


“Hey, Facebook friends: I'm leaving Facebook and deleting my account. If you want to keep in touch with me, I've set up my own social site, at https://joebloggs.me/, where I'll be posting status updates, photos, what I've been listening to, what I've been having for lunch, etc. Email me at joe@joebloggs.me and I'll make you a username and password. Cheers, Joe. x”

That's pretty much what Louise Mensch did - left Twitter and set up her own social network, Menshn. I can't tell you whether it was successful, though, as I avoid anything she does because she is a knobend.
posted by mippy at 9:36 AM on December 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Instagram lets you upload from the iPhone photo library instead of taking a picture with the app. Unless I'm misunderstanding you.

Let me paste a link to the tweet, see if you can parse it, I might have not understood from inexperience - I personally prefer to use a camera for my photos. I know flickr lets me load stuff from hard drives on any device connected to the internet.

Okay I can't find it, search doesn't work well there, but here's a joke on the topic instead.
posted by infini at 9:37 AM on December 18, 2012


It is a business problem and not a technical problem.
It's both. The technical challenges are not solved. Take Twitter, which is the simplest possible case. How do you do real time updates without every server perpetually polling every other server? Feed readers don't run in sub-second times for very good reasons. Or does my server keep a note of all my followers and push out to them a la pubsub? That's going to cost me, and some followers are going to be out of sync. Either way is a lotta traffic.

More: How do I ensure @mentions are only seen by people following both? How does real-time search work? How do I ensure protected posts are only seen by people I've approved? How do in-reply-to chains work without landing in usenet's "missing post" hell?

None of these are insurmountable, but they are all things that are yet to be solved. Centralisation makes some things very easy which are very difficult to do in a federated way. I think we should do them, and I hope services like tent.io will get their act together to do them, but it doesn't seem to be happening.

Email, usenet, irc and jabber were and are all superb things. But they're not substitutes for what we have now.
posted by fightorflight at 9:53 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's a reason pros stuck with Flickr even while the hotness left town.

Oh, Flickr has had its severe and never-corrected annoyances and cultural issues ("nice capture" comments, "interestingness" galleries that included entirely too much HDR, say), and then their apps have been horrific, at least until now. I haven't been a huge Instagram fan, but at least I could see my photos on its app! At the same time, Instagram was more social-oriented and didn't seem like it was plagued by the whole "nice capture" or obnoxious amateur techie (blurry photos are bad!) thing, or what have you.

I just wanted to see Flickr evolve and didn't, so my used slowed to a crawl a couple of year back. I'll give the new app a chance (although I'll still use Android's pre-Instagram Vignette for Android, when I want to use or test filters for phone shots, which tend to be flat without some filtering.
posted by raysmj at 9:57 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


you can't use your own chat client to interoperate with Facebook chat via XMPP

More precisely, you can use your own chat client, you just can't use your own non-Facebook jabber account to chat with Facebook users. Which is what you meant, of course, just clarifying.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:01 AM on December 18, 2012


Consider: one could build a web app that worked an awful lot like a facebook page. You could have a mini blog engine for status updates, a photo gallery system for posting your photos, and a built in feed-reader for tracking other people's status updates.

I totally agree with Mars Saxman and I've been really surprised that no one has properly taken this up yet. There was sort of a movement towards a unified service a few years ago during the brief "lifestreaming", FriendFeed craze but it never quite seemed to coalesce.

I collect RSS or HTML scrapings from all my public social networks and put them together in my own database, and I won't use a service where I can't do that (lookin' at you, Facebook). I've taken an enthusiast's crack at creating some unified, self-hosted system like this for myself on lazy weekends. It's totally doable... it's just not how you make billions of dollars.

As for Instagram, I avoided it for years and finally just started using it a few months ago with some other local foodies as ways of showing off tasty restaurant dishes. Now I have to get back OUT of the habit of using it, argh.
posted by jess at 10:34 AM on December 18, 2012


Just tried the new Flickr app. It told me that my preferred camera app (camera ICS) was "not a camera," so I used Flickr as a camera instead. Then it crashed on me. But the Instagram app is subject the occasional crash when used with an external camera as well. (Never true with the other app I mentioned, not once.)
posted by raysmj at 10:43 AM on December 18, 2012


we changed the world using little more than 80x24 text screens. Just because you weren't hip enough, or old enough, to be there doesn't mean it wasn't a wonderful thing.

Exactly. There tended to be a lot more signal-to-noise in those days, too. (get off mah lawn!) A good example of this, one of the things I love about the Internet, is running across sites like yarchive.

I do all of my own hosting (web, email, etc) and just get a "business class" line from Comcast with static IPs. I worked in the ISP business too long - the only services I *really* trust are the ones I have control over. Then again, I'm a systems admin for a living, and running my own stuff is no big deal for me; meanwhile I have friends who are completely blown away when I register a domain name for them and have a Wordpress basic install done under that domain in fifteen minutes.
posted by mrbill at 10:57 AM on December 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


As a humble user, I appreciate my insider knowledge of tumblr impressed my colleague yesterday when I set up a password protected data dump for us to share in minutes and had a post up before he finished responding to the invitation ... Next, I will boil water.
posted by infini at 11:01 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Next, I will boil water.

Old-Skool! I haven't been able to do that since the motherboard died on my Powerbok G4!
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:36 AM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


If Instagram is going to sell your private photos for use in ads, doesn't that mean they'd have to let anyone who represents themselves as a potential customer look at those private photos as much as they want?

Remember how it turned out that about every fifth or so East German worked for the Stasi?

The primary superiority of capitalism appears to be that we trick you into doing all that work yourself-- and then laugh in your face because you're stupid enough to fall for that.
posted by jamjam at 11:53 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


We should note that places like CVS, with their photo-printing services, are very similar (and similarly vile):

From cvsphoto.com's Terms of Service:
You grant to the Web Site and its service providers and licensees a non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, unrestricted, world-wide right and license to access, use, copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, display, perform, communicate to the public, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, and otherwise use such Materials (in whole or in part) in connection with the Service, using any form, media or technology now known or later developed, without providing compensation to you or any other person, without any liability to you or any other person, and free from any obligation of confidence or other duties on the part of the Web Site or its service providers;
posted by sutt at 11:58 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Plus, if you plug your phone or SD card into one of those machines, it downloads every single image on it, not just the ones you want to print.

Everybody's asking about alternatives to Facebook, but nobody's mentioned that MySpace is back in business. The fact that I'm not providing a link should show how plausible that option is.

The fact that this conversation got dumbed down into a comparison between eating your vegetables, and then even that concept was criticized should show us all that what people essentially want is the ability to store our pictures with minimal effort and with minimal interaction with other people.
posted by Blue_Villain at 12:06 PM on December 18, 2012


I killed my Instagram account today. I wasn't using it very much, I wasn't enjoying it, I didn't like most of the filters, and the idea of licensing family photos I'd taken for social ad use was creeping me out. I've been told by a lawyer friend that it really doesn't mean all that you think it means, but the truth is that the value proposition of Instagram for me had just tipped over into "more trouble than it was worth" with this TOS change. By the end of this year, I feel like it's going to be time to do a purge of a lot of social networking things for the same reason. Too much crap, not enough value.
posted by immlass at 12:07 PM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I deleted my Instagram account today as well. Not that I think anyone is going to want to use badly lit photos of my Movember moustache and the cat for advertising, but I damn well want the right to own any photos I take.
posted by arcticseal at 12:10 PM on December 18, 2012


If everyone just acted like Richard Stallman, we'd have these problems solved by now. Categorical imperative demands that if it's possible for Some Evil Company to exploit your account on its web service with crafty legalese and alluring design templates, we should not use web services to host our data. Then the web looks like what it really is: a series of protocols that can be used to send data back and forth across a telecommunications infrastructure. I think we forget that what we are doing when we connect to Facebook or Twitter or some other service is that we are sending data to someone else's computer, willingly, and trusting that they will scrupulously forward it on to the intended recipients, just 'cause they're such great upstanding citizens. This is not to imply that anyone who gets burned by the machinations of Zuckerberg deserves their lot, but it's not so shocking, is it? There is the old web sitting underneath the new one, and all you have to do to use it is look away from the marketing, the glitz and glamor, and roll up your sleeves.
posted by deathpanels at 12:11 PM on December 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


this now reminds me of a thread from spring 2010 when i killed my facebook account ...only it took less time for this company to reach this point
posted by infini at 12:18 PM on December 18, 2012


The cool kids have long since switched to Friendface and Chitter anyway.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:35 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


CNN: Instagram users revolt over privacy changes

ABC: '#Instagate': Instagram Claims Right to License Users' Photos to Advertisers; Users Protest

(I deleted my account a couple of hours ago & archived all photos on flickr.)
posted by muckster at 12:41 PM on December 18, 2012




Everybody saying that Instagram is easily replaceable is completely missing the point for a lot of users like myself. I don't care that Twitter has filters and I don't care that Flickr's app is good. I have to be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others as part of my job, and I don't really enjoy being on any of those sites. Instagram is a product that I actually do like. I have a good network of friends and strangers that I enjoy sharing photos with, a few niche hashtags I follow and contribute to, and an overall experience that feels good.

Moving my stuff over to Flickr, or starting to use Twitter for personal things, or setting up some elaborate self-hosted gallery doesn't provide the same platform and network that I'm used to and that I really actually like. I'm probably not going to keep my Instagram account if the ToS don't change before January 16, but I'm also probably not going to be replacing it in the short term either. If MetaFilter suddenly claimed ownership of all user content I don't think I'd stick around here either, but I also doubt I'd find what I have here on another community (or on a personal blog).

Hopefully changes are made before the ToS goes into effect. If not, I'll be sad to lose a community I've been part of for the last two years.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 12:48 PM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


> Oh, Flickr has had its severe and never-corrected annoyances and cultural issues ("nice capture" comments,
> "interestingness" galleries that included entirely too much HDR, say), and then their apps have been horrific,
> at least until now.

Oddly I was just thinking of opening a flickr account, having twenty-odd years of gen-u-wine hand-drawn-hand-painted-by-me art that I'd like to put out there somewhere. Not that I'd expect anyone to look at it or comment on it on flickr, so neither the comments nor the baked-in apps are significant. I just want it out there where I can link to it from other places (in ways that, as I read them, probably violate flickr's TOS) such as in questions posted to cgtalk or conceptart or wetcanvas. "OK, how did I fsck this one up [see linked example.]?" Really, the only consideration that means a thing to me is whose free account allows the biggest image upload. (That seems to be a tie between flickr and deviantart at 30mb per .png, this week anyway.)


> Hell, I posted to my Facebook that I'm resuming posting on my LiveJournal/Dreamwidth, and crickets.

Leave FB and you find out who your real friends are, and whether you have any.
posted by jfuller at 12:52 PM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm glad to report no problems with the Flickr app on my Android phone as well as full social integration, optional for each shot. Instagram's sole purpose was to encourage simple photography and facilitate consumption by socially shoving, and now that it's puling the trigger, I'm glad others will migrate on. As an Android user, Instagram wasn't even available until the aquisition of both itself and the largest Android photoservice, Lightbox, by Facebook. Flickr's app does a fine enough job, and now I'm encouraged to resume using other third party styling apps like Pixlr-O-Matic.
posted by Meagan at 12:53 PM on December 18, 2012


> @Instagram: We've heard you that the updates to our Privacy Policy & Terms of Service are raising a lot of questions. We'll have more to share very soon

"Oh shit, we didn't think you guys would have noticed that one part."
posted by mrzarquon at 12:56 PM on December 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


Oh, Flickr has had its severe and never-corrected annoyances and cultural issues ("nice capture" comments, "interestingness" galleries that included entirely too much HDR, say

'Nice capture' never seemed that irritating to me - it's just a comment. What did annoy me was people posting their 'awards' in your comments, complete with giant sparkly GIF trophies.
posted by mippy at 1:01 PM on December 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


The internet still forces us to violently oscillate between sheer panic over violation of privacy and consuming melancholy over not getting enough attention. Film at 11.

this particular case seems like both happening simultaneously
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:01 PM on December 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


It took me about 15 minutes to recover and reset my Flickr login. I remember that was what annoyed me the most: that when they got bought out by Yahoo! I had to use my stupid throw-away Yahoo! account to login instead of my regular email address (and now I have a different regular email anyway so it's messed right up). It looks like the last time I uploaded photos there as 2008, though I renewed my pro account this past Feb, probably out of not wanting to deal with what might happen to what I had there.

I'll be interested to see how this shakes out. I'm a fairly recent Instagram user but I do like it - it makes my bad iphone photos seem maybe 5% less bad via the filters. I don't have a huge network built up there - and losing the ability to see people's photos right in my Twitter stream has been driving me crazy.

In recent months I've gone away from posting much to Facebook because it's just been crapified and I had to block so many people who annoyed me there was barely anything left to read. And my wariness of completely giving up my content has come back. It's one thing to use it, I suppose, but a completely different thing to lock it in there where I can't get it out.
posted by marylynn at 1:03 PM on December 18, 2012


@Instagram: We've heard you that the updates to our Privacy Policy & Terms of Service are raising a lot of questions. We'll have more to share very soon.
If this was a relationship Ask, we would all be saying things like "when people show you who they are, you should listen".

Too late Instagram. Even if you retract the change, its made people stop and think about how your service works, and how you make money, and where you're heading.
posted by Joh at 1:11 PM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just tried the new Flickr app. It does the job well. I posted everything I took on Instagram to Flickr anyway, and have had a Flickr account for many years. So now I'm gonna go kill my Instagram account. Thanks for the filtered memories, guys.
posted by Jimbob at 1:55 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sext Instagram account incites riot.
posted by sparkletone at 2:04 PM on December 18, 2012


Even if you retract the change, its made people stop and think about how your service works, and how you make money, and where you're heading.

They are retracting the change. Somehow I don't feel like going back. I'm seriously not sure why -- I guess it turns out I just never liked it that much. I grow old. I grow old.
posted by The Bellman at 2:05 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


They are retracting the change.

Well, retracting some of it, redrafting the rest in an unambiguous way. It was pretty clear from the beginning that this is the product of overzealous legal drafting without sufficiently explaining the reasoning behind it. I hope the outrage mob will chill out a bit..? It's crazy how much this has blown up.
posted by naju at 2:22 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


We should note that places like CVS, with their photo-printing services, are very similar (and similarly vile):

From cvsphoto.com's Terms of Service:


So I have been in this thread advocating stickin' it to the Internet Terms of Service Man and I have a long and storied history of doing such in other places online and then sutt made the above post...

I helped write that particular ToS for our client, CVS. Oh god cognitive dissonance THANKS SUTT. ;)
posted by jess at 2:27 PM on December 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


I hope the outrage mob will chill out a bit..? It's crazy how much this has blown up.

"Overzealous legal drafting" is a serious problem. People are paid big money to do this. A lot rides on it. It matters, and they showed themselves to be irresponsible. But, more importantly for me, this fuck up coincided perfectly with the release of a new Flicker app which (a) lets me keep all my photos in one place again, like I always used to (b) has many, many more people I know on it and (c) does a pretty excellent job of integrating the novel functionality Instagram has. Instagram now doesn't do anything Flickr doesn't do, and Flickr does a whole lot of things that Instagram doesn't. The deal is done.
posted by Jimbob at 2:27 PM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Again, people are shocked that a billion-dollar company that bought a smaller company because they noticed the user base was growing rapidly wants to cash in on what/why they purchased it.

I am not. I am just shocked that we continue to be shocked by it, as though all those companies go to bed at night thinking, "We would NEVER exploit you."

(And yes, I have an Instagram account. I use it less and less these days and always back up my pics from it. But seriously.)
posted by Kitteh at 2:29 PM on December 18, 2012


I am just shocked that we continue to be shocked by it

Are "we" shocked by it, or is it just that every time this happens there's a pool of new users to whom this has never happened before, and those users learn the same lesson we've all had to learn?

Maybe the walled-garden problem will solve itself, in time, after things have stabilized and everyone has been screwed over and has learned to be leery of shiny gifts presented a little too enthusiastically by grinning sharks with one hand hidden behind their backs.
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:35 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fair play. I guess I am shocked that people seem to get overworked by it when over half of them never bother to read TOS for anything. (I am one of them, but at least I am aware that the shiny gifts will always have a cost.)
posted by Kitteh at 2:38 PM on December 18, 2012


Man, I hope their advertisers like the 40-odd pictures I have of my cats on there.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 2:54 PM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would have been perfectly happy to give Instagram $25-40 per year. It's where my friends are. Let an ad-supported one float the freeloaders and casual users...but noooo.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:01 PM on December 18, 2012


The fact that I'm not providing a link should show how plausible that option is.

The new myspace is still in invite only beta, so a link wouldn't much more useful than your snark.
posted by flaterik at 3:02 PM on December 18, 2012


Instagram's official response includes:
...it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.
posted by Western Infidels at 3:37 PM on December 18, 2012


"We're sorry

that you noticed."
posted by ODiV at 3:39 PM on December 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


I get that you're 40 or 50 or whatever and used the Internet back in the days when it sucked and now you've convinced yourself that the entire last decade of web design was entirely pointless, but, um, it wasn't, and now the web lets people do things that it didn't back in 1999, and acting snooty about how much better your way of doing things doesn't fucking work when your way of doing things is blatantly worse.

I see designers haven't changed much since 1999.
posted by Sparx at 3:39 PM on December 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


I see designers haven't changed much since 1999.

s/designers/kids/
posted by entropicamericana at 3:54 PM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've run my own severs for years, but it's always kind of a pain to configure and setup web services. The fact is, it's kind of a pain in the ass to setup and configure everything. There isn't any technical reason why it couldn't all be point and click easy - it just doesn't happen to be the case at the moment. But the question is where is the money in that to pay for the developers and designers you'd need to make it work really well.
posted by delmoi at 7:02 PM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tangentially related, but I heard Facebook users love autoplay video ads in their feeds!
Well, good news everyone!
posted by Mezentian at 7:16 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I've run my own severs for years, but it's always kind of a pain to configure and setup web services. The fact is, it's kind of a pain in the ass to setup and configure everything. There isn't any technical reason why it couldn't all be point and click easy - it just doesn't happen to be the case at the moment.

I know exactly what you mean. Where I currently work is a company dedicated to fix exactly that problem.

And yet, yes, I still just give my money to Flickr Pro, because it is the better tool for that specific job.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:21 PM on December 18, 2012


I've run my own severs for years, but it's always kind of a pain to configure and setup web services. The fact is, it's kind of a pain in the ass to setup and configure everything. There isn't any technical reason why it couldn't all be point and click easy - it just doesn't happen to be the case at the moment. But the question is where is the money in that to pay for the developers and designers you'd need to make it work really well.
Well, that's exactly right. In the "World Full of Richard Stallmans" alternate universe I described above, everybody has to be a sys admin in order to use the internet. Information exchange takes place only under the most strictly secure conditions. And since we cannot put trust in someone else to manage that security for us, that means more work for the individual. Taken to the extreme, this means disabling cookies, turning off JavaScript, eschewing Google usage entirely, running all internet traffic through a secure remote tunnel to obscure your IP address, only running a FOSS operating system and recompiling kernel nightly to make sure you're on top of the latest security patches.

It's obvious why this falls apart. The web became a commercial and cultural force when it became useable without technical knowledge. Not everybody is a computer person, wants to be a computer person, or can be bothered to learn enough of the details to be critical of how technology is employed and by who. And we shouldn't expect them to. The modern web as a medium is essentially read/write television. Sites like Facebook have lowered the barrier of entry to what previously was enjoyed only by geeks back in the BBS era. In this light, modern devices like the iPad are a democratic triumph.

We can posit a relationship between internet freedom (F) and ease of use (E):

F = (1/E) * c

The more free your internet experience is, the less easy it is. If you expect Stallman-ish freedom, be prepared to live a Stallman-ish life of inconvenience. For a while, he didn't even use a cell phone because he couldn't get the source code for the phone's software. Most people would call this nuts. Sure, we all have privacy concerns about phones being hacked, etc., but only a tiny fraction of people are willing to totally boycott all cell phones because they cannot have absolute metaphysically certitude that their phone is not spying on them. For most of us, we accept some loss of freedom for the sake of convenience, because our privacy is just not that important to us – important, yes, but not that important.

So it seems to me this problem will always persist as long as the baseline for "most people" leaves enough individuals willing to trade a tiny slice of their freedom for convenience to sustain an active user base on a free (as in beer) web service. If that ever stops being the case, if we ever do become a world of Stallmans, you can expect all the venture capital money in Silicon Valley to dry up and half a million programmers to pack their bags and hitchhike out of Frisco. Maybe the world would be better off. Then again, maybe not. I doubt a place like Metafilter would evolve out of a culture of technophobic digerati. The Instagrams of the world just might be the price we pay for a connected world.
posted by deathpanels at 9:14 PM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


from the 'retraction,' quoted by Western Infidels: “...it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.”

This is a whole lot of bullshit here, isn't it? They thought we were afraid they were going to "sell your photos... without any compensation"? I guess maybe some people thought that. I don't know anybody who did. This is the freaking internet – who "sells photos" anyway? And who would buy them? Stock image data warehouses?

Look, Instagram. We know what you're going to do. You're not going to "sell our photos." You're going to let people pay to use our images and names in ads embedded in Instagram and Facebook feeds. That is explicitly what is allowed in the TOS you gave us today, and you haven't denied or retracted that part of it one bit. Moreover, I have a strong feeling I know what else is next – you're likely to start offering companies the chance to "promote" our photos if they happen to feature their products, whether we want that to happen or not.

There are so many loopholes and easy outs here, and Instagram hasn't addressed one of them. They've made it clear that they're aiming at the most ominous tactics Facebook has used, tactics Facebook itself has often been forced to back away from. I mean, for example, Facebook took money so that a sex lube company could use this guy's name and face without his permission. Instagram is aiming to be able to do that with all of its users. Nobody thinks this is about "selling photos." It's about monetizing people's online personas in a dishonest way.
posted by koeselitz at 10:04 PM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


The replacement app ya'll want for sharing photos with filters on them with your friends is Path. The filters look nice and you can comment or react via smiley on your friends' pictures, which appear in your timeline. Besides pictures, you can also update with sound, text, the people you are with, or geotagged location data. Each update can be public, private, or friends only.

It's very nice and totally free, which means it's destined to one day be bought out by a big company who'll want all your data. But until that day....
posted by subdee at 10:51 PM on December 18, 2012


sixohsix: "What I mean by this is that any Internet startup that doesn't start making money from its very first user is guaranteed to become a site you eventually do not want to be associated with."

What about a website like MetaFilter, which didn't start charging users until it absolutely had to? I think there's a lesson in there somewhere about growing slowly and not thinking of your users as cows to be milked.
posted by yaymukund at 11:05 PM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Metafilter is an exception. Metafilter is the old awesome Internet surviving and thriving up into the present day and as such it is an irreplaceable treasure. The likes of this you shall never see again.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:05 PM on December 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


On the subject of hosting your own domain... the comments about it being fairly involved are accurate, and it's true that it probably isn't going to be as nicely integrated as hosting it on some big commercial service, unless you're willing to put in an assload of work.

Some people (including me) think that's an okay tradeoff for the security and control of hosting your own data. However, it is very strongly worth pointing out that this is not true on virtual machines. The law does not recognize a virtual machine as being separate, so if ANYONE on a virtual host fucks up, the authorities can stomp at will through ANY VM in the system. Likewise, if a hacker compromises one of the VMs, he might be able to get root on the whole server, and then you are, once again, exposed, no matter how good your security was.

It's a LOT better to have actual, physical hardware; a VM is better than ordinary shared hosting, but it's far from bulletproof.

As an example, I was an early customer on Linode, back when VPSes were still pretty new. I hosted my mail and DNS on that system, and copied mail down to my local network. I had that thing configured as tight as I could possibly manage, with custom, hand-written iptables firewall rules; nowadays I use tools to generate rulesets, but back then, I did it by hand.

Well, one day I popped into my ruleset to update it, and noticed a reference to an IP range I didn't recognize. It was placed very carefully in the rule set in such a way that it looked just like something I had written. It gave full access to a class C network that I knew nothing about. When I did a reverse lookup on some of the IPs, they came back claiming to be in fbi.gov. I think forward lookups came out pointed to the same spot. (Any server can claim anything it wants on a reverse lookup [e.g. "I'm www.whitehouse.gov!"], but when both the forward and the reverse DNS agree, that's fairly strong evidence that the reverse answer is not a lie.) Whatever the actual evidence, I was reasonably convinced it was really the FBI.

Now, I'd done absolutely nothing to warrant this kind of invasion. Nothing whatsoever. That server hosted mail and DNS. I don't think it was even running Apache, although it's been probably ten years now, so I'm not absolutely certain. So there was absolutely no reason to be doing searches on my VM; my assumption is that someone else hosted on my server did something wrong, and the FBI came in and did what they felt they needed to in order to watch the system. One of those changes was quietly adjusting my firewall rule set to allow them full access. (I imagine, nowadays, they'd install a modified hypervisor or otherwise tamper with the host machine, rather than making visible changes in the guests.)

They probably had the legal right to do that, because the law doesn't recognize virtual machines as being separate things. As soon as ANYONE fucked up, we were ALL subject to hacking and surveillance by the government.

So I stopped using VMs for anything personal after that. If I want to host something on the Internet for myself, I do it only on real hardware. (I may run VMs on real hardware myself, but I am in full control of the box, just to make sure.) I believe that renting separate hardware is just about as safe as owning it, but I actually own a physical machine I have hosted in a colocation facility, as I got a dynamite deal on rack space and bandwidth.

This is not, however, a good solution for most people. I built a rackmount PC, preconfigured it with all the services and IP addresses, built an emergency USB bootup key in case something got hosed, and tested everything locally to be absolutely certain it was correct and would respond on the real IPs when it got there. I was shipping it a couple thousand miles away, and I will probably never physically see the machine again, so it had to work.

But I am an ancient, grizzled neckbeard; this is easy for me. If your expertise is elsewhere, it is utterly unreasonable to expect you to develop your technical skills far enough to do this yourself. But renting? Renting might be really good, especially renting a managed server, where they do the OS updates for you. This may be unreasonably expensive, but if you're worried about privacy, that's the best way I know to protect it, short of not putting anything on the Web at all. And you can do a lot of cool stuff when you own your own domain.

VMs are not a panacea: neither hackers nor the law see VMs as being really separate from the main host. Be very wary of how much you trust to one.
posted by Malor at 11:10 PM on December 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


I suspect there's a startup opportunity waiting to happen... it would be small and might never scale, very artisanal and personal like those hometown ISPs back in the day but... MeFite hosting services specially designed for Gen X Web 2.0oooey leftovers is something I'd be willing to pay one of you for...

In return, I will boil your water for you.
posted by infini at 12:40 AM on December 19, 2012


I am just shocked that we continue to be shocked

Yeah, yeah, yeah. LOL capitalism is not an argument and rejecting people's objections in emotional terms? That trick never works.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:53 AM on December 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


These ritualized flare-ups of outrage over TOS changes are becoming a little improbable. With a service like Instagram, which provides not a just tool, but a whole mode of ludic being, including an audience and an aesthetic and an attitude, to what extent does it even make sense to say that the content is "yours" any more?
posted by deo rei at 1:07 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I get that you're 40 or 50 or whatever and used the Internet back in the days when it sucked

Look, kid, I get that you're a super talented and all around amazing guy but you have to understand that all of us were like that. Some of us had the faith or fortune to go on and actually do something with that, sometimes to great effect, but all of us, except the very lucky or the very stupid, have had our attitudes adjusted at some point, either because we fucked up or because we got fucked. That gives a special kind of perspective.

The internet that existed before it spawned the services you're so kind to explain to us is still there. It still uses IP addresses, port numbers, and domain names. It's still possible for any host to serve network requests for any other host and it's still possible to run your own blog. If at some point you kids decide that perhaps selling out your friends to a faceless megacorp for like currency perhaps isn't such a terrific idea after all, then those are the bricks you will use to build a new house. The curmudgeonly comments that you disparage at least have the merit of keeping that knowledge alive. All your vehement defense of the corporate tit does is to enable a process that makes those bricks less useful by the time you need them. And you will need them, because you will get fucked.
posted by deo rei at 2:13 AM on December 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


I just want it out there where I can link to it from other places (in ways that, as I read them, probably violate flickr's TOS) such as in questions posted to cgtalk or conceptart or wetcanvas.

Flickr allows you to embed your photos from other sites, as long as they're clickable links to the photo page. I'm not sure how zealous they are about enforcing this requirement (which dates back about 8 years) these days.
posted by acb at 2:50 AM on December 19, 2012


'Nice capture' never seemed that irritating to me - it's just a comment. What did annoy me was people posting their 'awards' in your comments, complete with giant sparkly GIF trophies.

I delete those immediately if I get them. Though for some reason, the sorts of people who post them seem to mostly go and bother other people.
posted by acb at 2:52 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Their method for monetizing their app was to sell it to Facebook for a billion dollars.

Startups are primarily vehicles to facilitate the flow of capital.

Some have noted here that there are always a handful of digital services that a mass of people simply have to use in order to function in the modern economy. Capital takes hedged bets on which ones they will be.

Just as it took a while for modern consumers to develop a vocabulary and analytic stance towards the products of the industrial era of capitalism, recognising the flows of capital within them as equally significant to the end product or service, the same will need to happen for digital services that are staffed by 13 people and bought for a billion dollars.
posted by colie at 3:22 AM on December 19, 2012


That's pretty much what Louise Mensch did - left Twitter and set up her own social network, Menshn. I can't tell you whether it was successful, though, as I avoid anything she does because she is a knobend.

And then her business partner in Menshn was arrested for—wait for it—having indecent images of children. Not that that has any bearing one way or another on the “I'm throwing my own party, who's with me?” tactic, but you'd think she could have chosen her company more carefully.
posted by acb at 3:53 AM on December 19, 2012


Tangentially related, but I heard Facebook users love autoplay video ads in their feeds!
Well, good news everyone!


Have they figured out how to make a browser window flatline your CPU without using Flash yet? Because that seems to be the technical breakthrough the world's waiting for.
posted by acb at 3:56 AM on December 19, 2012


There is 0% chance that FB is setting up Instagram to be a stock photo agency. I read this as FB covering its ass to make sure it can advertise on Instagram like it advertises on FB--using your photos, along with your name, for "sponsored stories" and other forms of "social ads."

I agree that it's written more broadly than that, but I write these, and you always go overbroad, especially when you've been sued for these practices in the past.

If Instagram wanted to literally sell and sublicense your photos for use by third parties outside of the service, they'd have to do a hell lot more than just bury it in their TOU. No judge would enforce that without better notice.
posted by benbenson at 4:37 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


With a service like Instagram, which provides not a just tool, but a whole mode of ludic being, including an audience and an aesthetic and an attitude, to what extent does it even make sense to say that the content is "yours" any more?

To the extent that the primary content (the photographs) that the ludic environment is orchestrated around is "yours". No pictures = nothing for audience, no aesthetic, no attitude. A theatre has comfy seats, but the script still belongs to the playwright.
posted by fightorflight at 5:13 AM on December 19, 2012


The Social Web: End of the First Cycle by Warren Ellis is an interesting addition to this conversation.
posted by Fizz at 5:19 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


If Instagram wanted to literally sell and sublicense your photos for use by third parties outside of the service, they'd have to do a hell lot more than just bury it in their TOU. No judge would enforce that without better notice.

You think? That's kind of undermining the whole value of the TOS then, if it doesn't apply if people don't understand it or if they didn't get sufficient notice.
posted by smackfu at 6:55 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


benbenson: “There is 0% chance that FB is setting up Instagram to be a stock photo agency. I read this as FB covering its ass to make sure it can advertise on Instagram like it advertises on FB--using your photos, along with your name, for 'sponsored stories' and other forms of 'social ads.'”

Yep. That's why everyone is up in arms; because that is offensive.

“If Instagram wanted to literally sell and sublicense your photos for use by third parties outside of the service, they'd have to do a hell lot more than just bury it in their TOU. No judge would enforce that without better notice.”

Not only that, but if Instagram was planning on setting themselves up as a stock photo agency, they are stupid. Stock photo agencies don't make that much money, and private photos aren't exactly a goldmine waiting to be tapped. The money is in targeted advertising.

The only reason anybody thinks Instagram was planning on becoming a stock photo agency is because Instagram is using that straw man to try to argue their way out of the stupid thing they did and obfuscate the issue.

I mean, Instagram is also not setting themselves up as an advance force for an alien invasion. They may as well have responded to this controversy by insisting that they are not allied with invading aliens; it has about as much to do with the issue at hand.
posted by koeselitz at 7:17 AM on December 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Good takedown of the retraction here. Instagram didn't get the "tone" wrong, and the terms weren't unclear. They were perfectly clear -- the retraction is gibberish in comparison.
posted by fightorflight at 11:07 AM on December 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


fightorflight, We don't know if that is a good takedown of the "retraction" until we see how they revise the terms.

smackfu, it's true that TOSs purport to be a meeting of the minds and have all the other hallmarks of enforceable legal agreements (though they are of course never negotiated), and many courts have held them to be enforceable in ways that benefit the drafter in the way the drafter intended, but a lot of judges are very skeptical, and will not enforce terms contained in them if the terms did not seem to be part of the bargain people thought they were getting into.

For example, if they changed the TOS to contain a provision assigning the entire copyright interest in the photos to Instagram, in accordance with 17 U.S.C 204(a), there's just no way it would hold up unless Instagram could show that it went out of its way to make users aware of the new provision. What it is currently doing (providing notice of the update in the news part of the app) wouldn't be enough. I imagine they would need to provide specific notice of the new terms and have all users affirmatively manifest their consent to the new terms (e.g. a pop-up requiring them to click their assent).
posted by benbenson at 11:29 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here we go, the "revised" terms are actually a total rollback.

Which makes that a good takedown. This was never about poor communication -- if it was, they would have revised the terms. The new terms were perfectly clear; the problem was people hated them. Hence they have not been reworded, they have been rescinded.
posted by fightorflight at 6:40 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]



And, from the owners of Instragram: Facebook Test Will Let You Message Strangers For $1
posted by Mezentian at 4:25 PM on December 21, 2012


And it appears there's an xkcd for most occasions.
posted by Mezentian at 4:29 PM on December 21, 2012


xkcd is way off here; that comic doesn't assume any benefit to Chad from storing other people's stuff in his garage, which in this case would be analogous to the data-mining benefit Facebook/Instagram is getting/hoping to get in the future from the shit you're keeping in their garage. So maybe if Chad was also charging folks to come paw through your shit in his garage behind your back so they could find out more about you and use that information to make money of you later, well, maybe then xkcd would have a point.
posted by mediareport at 6:16 AM on December 22, 2012


I think we can all agree that free-market capitalism Ruins Everything. Everything must make Money, everything must justify it's own existence by making a profit, damn whoever gets trampled in the process.

I don't think we can all agree on that, at all. Unless we're also going to agree that free-market capitalism Creates Everything. Crap, I can't agree on that, either. But geez, talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. What are we supposed to do, go back to the time when everything was sponsored by the aristocracy or the church? Or should be adopt the Chinese model?

If you mean that we just shouldn't be able to trade and invest on an open market, and everything should be owned by the management, I still think you're not going to see a lot of the things that you enjoy, and you are still living by the dictum that "everything must justify its own existence by making a profit." Perhaps you think that you are willing to give those up, but I would wager that neither you nor I could predict how much we'd really lose.

It's easy to complain, but much harder to offer a superior alternative. That doesn't mean that one doesn't exist, but broad complaints unaccompanied by suggestions don't have much value.
posted by Edgewise at 5:16 PM on December 22, 2012


We don't really know what Instagram "planned" to do - they may not have had any specific plans at all. Or they could have lots of ideas. It seems like Instagram might have wanted to use, or allow third parties to use it's members images outside of instagram in advertizements. After all, their terms specifically allowed.

Remember, Instagram could have written their TOS to just allow your images to be used in advertizing on their site. But that's not what they did.

But they may not have had any specific plans at all. It might have simply been a land grab. Facebook has a tendency to make some huge land grab, see where they get pushback, retreat, and then figure out a way to get the same benefit without pissing off as many people.
xkcd is way off here; that comic doesn't assume any benefit to Chad from storing other people's stuff in his garage, which in this case would be analogous to the data-mining benefit Facebook/Instagram is getting/hoping to get in the future from the shit you're keeping in their garage. So maybe if Chad was also charging folks to come paw through your shit in his garage behind your back so they could find out more about you and use that information to make money of you later, well, maybe then xkcd would have a point.
Is that what it was about? It totally went over my head. I thought it was just about some asshole who stored his stuff in other people's garages. If that was supposed to be a metaphor for instagram or cloud storage in general the real difference is that "Chad" would have been advertizing his garage as a free storage facility for the past couple years - in which case, yeah it would kind of be a dick move to suddenly sell all of it off.
posted by delmoi at 5:54 PM on December 23, 2012


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