Instagram… Should I Stay or Should I Go?

After the ‘One day without spam’ protest on December the 4th Instagram users were full of hopes and believes that things can only get better. But just when we were about to approach Christmas, we got an early present – Instagram’s updated privacy policy, which led to some serious backlash.

First we were all surprised by becoming a commodity with a price tag, as suggested by Instagrams new rules, which proposed that the company could sell users pictures to advertisers. Then, after just 2 days of intense public pressure and uproar, Instagram changed the privacy policy blaming wrong interpretation caused by confusing language.

Instead of uploading photos of present wrapping and party cocktails, the Instagram world stopped to debate this treatment.

Now the question is: what to do next?

As James Ramsey points out in his blog post: ”It really did look like Instagram had something special going on – a true connection between life, technology and social. It was phenomenal – but maybe it still is…. Is Instagram so fantastic that you’ll stick around even though it tastes a bit sour after today? Is there nowhere else to go – is this just the ‘rule of the jungle.”

Instagram aren’t the first to introduce such terms of service – other networks have very similar policies.

Social Media Terms of Service

Instagram isn’t alone in its terms of service


Google (despite the YouTube terms above) and Flickr on the other hand offer very different approach:

  • Google stands for protecting users’ rights: “As our terms of service make clear, ‘what belongs to you stays yours. You own your files and control their sharing, plain and simple”.
  • Also, Yahoo’s policies for Flickr are photographer-friendly, as the company can only use the images “solely for the purpose for which such content was submitted or made available.”

Despite the apology and clarification, it seems that some users have no intention of trusting Instagram. That trust has been broken and for some it will be really hard to forget.

The trust has been broken

The trust has been broken

It is wrong to assume we can get something for nothing

But while we are all getting angry at Instagram, another question comes – is this not something that we should have expected? It would be lovely if Instagram could host more than 4 billion photos for free, without introducing any form of advertising, like the ones which bombard you all the time on Facebook or are increasingly creeping into Twitter.

“So many of the smartest and most creative entrepreneurs of their generation have dedicated their lives to making you things for free. They’re writing software, or creating online marketplaces, for you. Free. Of. Charge. Think about that.”

It is hard not to argue that using Instagram makes us happy, but being digital users entitles us to have certain expectations towards online privacy and we should be warned about changes to their terms. But we need to remember that digital monetization “employs strategies like sponsored content that will initially make some people feel uncomfortable; that the content and information we upload to a site will never be truly our own, exclusively; and that we will be asked to pay with the only currency employable on a free site, which is our attention”. Derek Thompson at the Atlantic.

What are your alternatives?

If you decided to say adios to Instagram, do not worry as there are other app alternatives, which you might find satisfy your photography cravings, like:

  • Streamzoo: a mobile app which allows you to play with 20 filters, 15 borders and six crop shapes as well as to share your creativity on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Flicker. Supports iOS and Android.
  • Camera Awesome: as the name suggest this app can help you to transform your photos with nearly 300 effects, filters and editing tools and then share on other social networks. Just make sure you don’t lose too much time to it, as playing with it can be addictive! Supports iOS.
  • Hipster: a unique mobile app that lets you create virtual postcards and tag your friends, names and dates. Perfect if you are on holiday and wish to show off the magnificent views! Supports iOS.
  • Pixlr-o-matic: Another photo editing app with all the features you’d expect: filters, borders and the ability to share to the standard places. Supports iOS and Android.
  • Snapseed: Acquired by Google in September 2012, Snapseed sees Google trying to muscle in Instagram’s territory. But they are different apps – while Instagram allows little customization, Snapseed requires tweaking for every filter and effect used. For those with the patience to learn how to use it, this is one to watch. Supports iOS and Android.
  • Camera+: An extension of the standard iPhone camera, this adds enhancements and filters which can be synced via iCloud, adding an extra layer of convenience. Only on iOS.
  • Flickr: Once thought of as a dying service, Flickr released a new mobile app in December which is feature rich – not just offering editing functionality but provides a massive (existing) community too. Available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
  • Twitter: When Instagram stopped making their photos available on Twitter, Twitter responded by making photo-editing features not dissimilar to Instagram’s own, available within the Twitter app itself. This might be useful to those that wish to quickly share a photo to Twitter but not other platforms. Supports iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
  • EyeEm: EyeEm seems to have become a popular destination for those users who got fed up with Instagram. It’s tools appear to be quite powerful and it allows for super-easy social sharing, although Google+ is unsurprisingly missing. Supports iPhone, Android & Windows Phone.
  • Hipstamatic: Hipstamatic intends to give your photos a more retro and analog style using a uniquely designed app that lets you change filters and film types using an interface resembling a traditional camera.

The choice is enormous, but would we be able to find the same kind of people, open community and conversations that make our days?

Tell us what your decision is – are you staying and forgiving Instagram or have you moved away?

By Kasia Piekut

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