The end of Instagram
If you haven’t heard already, Facebook has bought Instagram for $1bn, making the previously profitless app more valuable than The New York Times Company. Crazy, right?
You would think such an acquisition would be monumental in that Instagram-which had a staff of just 13 people and a revenue of zilch-was picked up by the likes of Mark Zuckerberg.
But like many users, I have my reservations.
The backlash on Twitter has been rife but not surprising. Some have declared the end of Instagram as we know it, while others have even posted links on instructions on how to delete your Instagram account. It sounds drastic just because Facebook has taken over, but for those who use the app religiously, it’s as though they’ve become encapsulated in this bubble that Facebook is creating.
Users have been more than vocal in their dismay about the news with one user, Jelle Prins tweeting: “The Instagram acquisition shows us that in these times small startups can pose a huge threat to large corporations.”
And that is exactly what I think it boils down to. Never mind that Facebook wants to join forces with a popular, free startup to further enhance the “experience” of sharing photos, what Zuckerberg has essentially done, is eliminate a real threat to his company.
The heart of Facebook’s success is the element of sharing pictures, in fact it’s the largest photo-sharing website out there. Furthermore, the social network started out as a desktop-first company, designed with a computer-based user in mind. Of course they have a mobile site for those who want to access the website on their smartphones, but even with this there are features that are lacking, like my inability to tag friends in status updates when I’m on the move.
Instagram on the other hand, is a mobile-first company. Android users are now able to enjoy what Apple consumers have been relishing in for a while now, snapping and editing pictures that can be uploaded instantly to their account as well as their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Of course, Zuckerberg and his team have found a way to overcome one obstacle that they were seriously lacking in.
This will now place Facebook in a better position to deal with the likes of Pinterest, which is the world’s fastest growing social network that revolves around photo-sharing.
My concern as an Instagram user is the changes that are in store for this app of which I’m quite fond of. Zuckerberg has said he wants to retain most of the features but what he hasn’t announced are his plans to develop and expand the startup. Are they planning to take a leaf out of Google’s book who, after acquiring YouTube, more or less left the website as it is without any significant changes? Or will we be bombarded with advertisements? Will our personal details and photos be saved even if we close our account? Will we even be able to permanently delete our account rather than “deactivate” it? And what about our online security and privacy?
I remember a time when Facebook was quite tough and flexible with their privacy settings. You could either be as open or closed as you like. I chose to be super private to the point where you couldn’t even see me listed if you typed in my name or email address.
Now with the addition of the Timeline feature, the settings seemed to have changed as well. I saw a comment on a picture from my Halloween party from someone who I have never seen before and is not on my friend’s list, but who turned out to be a mutual friend of the girl tagged together with me in the photo. My photo. In my photo album, that I thought was restricted to just friends only.
Zuckerberg and even Systrom and Krieger, the founders of Instagram are likely to be celebrating the news, but if they don’t tread carefully from here on end and stay true to the purpose, they may find themselves as an online figure of hate to a large percentage who rejoiced in the freedom of using this independent and unique app.