This is a long post with a lot of thoughts in it. I suggest grabbing a cup of tea before you start reading. You have been warned!
Here is a bit of background for those of you who don't know. Feel free to skip straight on past if you do!
In a nutshell it has caused mayhem in the internet world because instagram stated that they effectively had a right to sell users photos to advertising companies without royalties or user consent.
Now this is NOT official. The above is my interpretation of the media and the official instagram blog.
I am in two minds about this change in policy.
At first I was angry. I was angry that pictures I posted could be used without my consent, I was angry that something simple and good like photo sharing was turning commercial and I was scared for my privacy.
It raised real questions in me why a picture taken with my SLR, used without my consent was stealing but a photo I shared online and had taken with my phone wasn't. I was just confused over this. I mean we all blog, we all share photos and we all trust that they won't be taken. How different is this to sharing on the app?
Now after reading the small print I am slightly calmer! Instagram has stated that it will remove any language within the policy that claims that they could sell your photos to advertisers and makes a point that if you are a private user only those who follow you can see your photos.
They are however still sketchy over what form the advertising will take. I think I am satisfied that they won't use my pictures in adverts without my consent however I am uncertain as to whether instagram will use my photos to connect me to other things.
If I'm honest I don't know how I feel about this. Instagram is a social sharing app. I knew that when I signed up. Therefore there has always been a degree of caution in me over what I post and what I keep private. In a way it is like facebook. We know that facebook can access our details and that is why we never reveal too much. That said I think photos can reveal far more than words can.
It worries me that I will have to really think about what I post on instagram now. It worries me that every time I use this app there is a twinge of uncertainty about where that picture will go and what it could show about me.
Where to go from here?
I have been thinking about this a lot. I love the idea of instagram. I love that it has made me focus on everyday things. I love how I can be more creative, I love that it has changed the way I look at mobile photography. Don't get me wrong this app has a whole heap of good about it.
I won't be deleting my instagram account BUT I will be checking regularly for more updates from instagram over how my photos might be used.
In my opinion I am buying into social networking and that comes with a lot of good but also a heavy weight. We need to be careful. We need to think with each photo about whether this will jeopardise our safety. In the same way we do with blogging we need to be careful.
I am staying private. At first I went private because I was getting spammed, now instagram have made a point of saying that if you are private only your followers can see your photos. This has to be good folks. I know it isn't as sociable BUT if it keeps me safer I am all for it!
In short I am hanging on in there. Until we get more information. I will keep posting photos. I will keep exercising caution. I will stay private.
What do you think? Feel free to raise questions or opinions in the comments or drop me an email.