I know I'm the product

2013-01-19

My summer holiday this year (remember, I'm in the Southern Hemisphere), where I find myself naturally spending less time online and thinking about what's happening in the technology space, was rudely interrupted by the controversy around Instagram's new terms of service. Earlier in December, Twitter had also followed up with its 'split' with Instagram by upgrading its own photo capabilities in its mobile app.

I'm not a particularly big Instagram user, but people we're asking if they should stay in Instagram or not.

Like millions of others, in the end I've decided to stay - for the moment.

I did look at the alternatives, like the improved flickr mobile app and of course the native Twitter client. But to be honest, Instagram still have the better app and photo features.

However, my usage probably isn't typical of many other users. I'm not as concerned about my photos being re-used inappropriately by Instagram, because I don't share pictures of family and close friends. Sure, I would be disappointed about someone making millions of dollars out of a picture I shared on Instagram, but its unlikely (which is why I publish my own content online under CC BY-NC-SA) - and if someone is going to infringe on my intellectual property rights from Instagram, they are just as likely to do it from Twitter or flickr.

In this respect, I'm as concerned about Instagram as I am all the other free social networking services. I find this particularly challenging when I think about my kids and young people in general. Ditching Instagram for another free app won't necessarily provide the protections they might expect of their digital footprints.

Instagram is on notice. But that's because my loyalty to a free app is not assured - I know I'm the product.

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