Andrew Breese

Musings of a professional geek

Instagram and others – sell your stuff? Yep

No, Instagram can’t sell your photos: what the new terms of service really mean | The Verge.

The Verge has reasonable summary of the Intragram hype around the potential change of license, and the furor that it created within their community and in the wider communities who are concerned. The article is a reasonable and human readable presentation of what is going on in terms of Instagram, and will serve to act as a reminder to users of other services such as Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Google+ and all the other social aspects of online life. Heck Redit and 4Chan probably also have the capacity to sell posts and material too. Why shouldn’t they? What security did the users pay for? And what is the contractual financial penalty for a breech. Fundamentally not much.

When did everyone brutally decouple their brains and un-think enough, to the point where they though SHARING STUFF ON THE INTERNET WAS SAFE? Seriously.

These companies seek profit, and that means that if you are not the vendor or the customer, then you are the product. If you share material online using these tools then you better get used to it. You = Product.

Instagram has clarified the position so that they are not selling material as much as using it in segway type adds, but really its the same thing (and that might have changed since this writing this, due to community backlash). To me the idea that the company can do anything with my material makes me and my material a commodity.

Users need to moderate what they share online so that anytime a company decides to share/sell/market or even miss-use your material you are not sharing something you thought was private or unique. We should consider posting material to social sites to be the same as posting them on a billboard on the highway. The person chose to post it, and cannot control what happens after that.

Honestly I can’t believe the uproar because I though this was obvious from the start. Content aggregators have been trawling the internet for years already grabbing material, and unless you are very tricky and tech savvy, or very litigious, their aggregation methods will be successful.

What can users do? Well remove and delete things that you don’t want to share. Perhaps delete your account if you feel that strongly, but to be honest the damage might already be done for some material. Be smarter and make a choice from this point forward for each phrase, image, or file you share online.

This is hopefully a blinding flash that scares people into considering what they post before they post. Perhaps the breadth of the impact is enough to drive home the point about keeping your stuff private?

I really hope so. Remember… you are the product.


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