Facebook's corporate consequences

SUBHEAD: Greed. Facebook incites backlash by attempt to monitize Instagram photo sharing site.

By Olga Kharif on 18 December 2012 for Bloomberg News -

Image above: The smartphone icon of photo sharing service Instagram. From article below.

Facebook Inc.’s policy changes to its Instagram photo-sharing site has drawn criticism from consumers, photographers and privacy advocates who said the update forces them to cede control over content.

Instagram unveiled a new privacy policy and terms of service on Dec. 17 that will give advertisers more flexibility in using photos, user names and likenesses in ads. After a backlash that resulted in thousands of complaints on Facebook, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said yesterday that the new terms will remove language suggesting that users’ photos could appear in advertisements.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network with more than 1 billion users, is seeking ways to eke sales from the rising tide of information users post to their profile pages. That has put the company at odds with consumers -- from the rank and file to celebrities such as LeBron James -- who oppose having their images woven into marketing messages.

“There was a lot of backlash,” Parker Higgins, an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said in an interview yesterday. “There are major problems with the policy. It’s not a great position to be in, for a social network to be distrusted by its users.”

Instagram, which Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg agreed to buy earlier this year for about $1 billion in cash and stock, has more than 100 million users. Popular with teens and young adults, the service lets users tweak and upload photos for sharing over the Web.

Digital Goldmine
Users in droves responded to the proposed changes by threatening to leave before the new terms were to take effect on Jan. 16. The wording in the updated policy also applies to users as young as 13, raising concerns over teenagers’ privacy, according to Jeffrey Chester, executive director for the Center for Digital Democracy.

Facebook “sees teens as a digital goldmine,” Chester said. “We will be pressing the Federal Trade Commission to issue policies to protect teen privacy.”

Instagram’s new terms propose that users must agree to let an advertiser “display your user name, likeness, photos” in ads or sponsored content without paying the users, or asking for their permission. Users younger than 18 must also acknowledge that at least one parent or guardian has also agreed to content being used in marketing. The changes are aimed at protecting members while preventing abuse, Instagram said in a blog.

Zuckerberg has had to backtrack on service changes in the past. In 2007, he apologized after users complained that the social-networking site’s Beacon advertising program violated their privacy. The feature tracked what users buy online and shared the information with their friends.

Pushing Boundaries
In the updated policy document, Instagram also said it may not always identify paid services or sponsored content. The company said it doesn’t claim ownership of any content on the service, though some businesses may pay to display users’ names, likeness or photos in connection with sponsored content.

“Our updated privacy policy helps Instagram function more easily as part of Facebook by being able to share info between the two groups,” the company said. “This means we can do things like fight spam more effectively, detect system and reliability problems more quickly, and build better features for everyone by understanding how Instagram is used.”

The controversial wording may be scrapped altogether, according to Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group.

“One thing Facebook has done pretty consistently is pushed the boundaries of what its users are comfortable with,” Wieser said in an interview. “And it frequently backed off.”

Instagram ends Twitter image support

Philippa Warr on 12 December 2012 for Wired - 

Photos posted to Twitter from Instagram will no longer show up directly in users' Twitter feeds, only as links to the images on Instagram's own site.

The change in functionality began last week as the photosharing service cancelled support for Twitter cards -- the customisable media snippets which can be attached to the bottom of tweets, which link to external content -- in a move to funnel users to its own site.

"It's about where you go to consume that image," said Instagram's co-founder Kevin Systrom at LeWeb 2012. "We want that to be on Instagram.com because we think that's a better experience."

Initially the result of the cancelled support was that the Instagram shots would still appear in tweets but incorrectly cropped, however now the functionality is completely gone, offering just a link to the picture on Instagram's own site.

Explaining further, Systrom noted that the move was a return to the previous Instagram sharing process on Twitter.

"When we first integrated with Twitter it was just a link. Over time we realised there was a need to be able to see that photo," said Systrom of the initial move to using Twitter cards. "[But] what we realised was we really needed to build an awesome web presence and just recently we launched web profiles which allows you to showcase all of your images from the past."

A short post to the Twitter blog confirmed the change, stating "While tweeting links to Instagram photos is still possible, you can no longer view the photos on Twitter, as was previously the case."

Systrom indicated that further improvements in tweeted Instagram experiences may be possible, however Twitter is thought to be developing filters for its own photo sharing service.

[IB editor note: I opened a Facebook account to see what my adult kids were up to.  It got tiresome to receive emails telling me I had a message on Facebook. Why not just send me the message? Then I found that it was difficult to control what was streaming onto my wall. 

Much of the control of what happens to your Facebook information was hidden in hard to find corners of the site. After much fristration I refused to login to my Facebook account anymore. Once Facebook became a "public" corporation and became "dedicated" to shareholder earnings they began some serious monitization of the site. They were pushing harder on ad content you "liked" making you a unpaid product barker. 

Then they bought Instagram. I had an account there. I quit the photo service then. Now Facebook has created new terms of service for Instagram that potentially makes your likeness (and anyone or thing you take a picture of) commercial product that Instagram owns. So much for social networking in corporate America.]


1 comment :

Gelfling said...

What would be needed is a non-profit version of these services that allows social media to belong to people instead of corporations. It is wonderful that we have wikipedia and craigslist.

There is a nonprofit starting up to replace facebook called Diaspora which i have just started trying out, so i can't vouch for it yet, but i hope it takes off. It can hook to your FB account and send through FB or through Diaspora for those friends who also have it, so that should help the transition.

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