As 500,000 Instagram accounts were deleted today, Instagram decided to revert to its old policy. The major up war has caused a huge viral backlash that could continue to damage the company's reputation, despite the efforts to pacify the public from its outrage, that occurred over the last few days. While this may seem like a major victory for consumer and photographer rights, there is still a lot of bad policy that mirrors Instagram regarding users and their intellectual property rights, within social media outlets.
The new terms were first spotted by The New York Times. As the New York Times points out, the only way to stop Instagram from using your pics is by killing off your account.
Within the last few days major up war has caused a severe internet backlash over twitter, using the hashtag #BoyCottInstagram.
According to HashTracking.com
#BOYCOTTINSTAGRAM generated 1,409 tweets generated 5,525,662 impressions, reaching an audience of 5,263,905 followers within the past 24 hours.
While some people may not think of this policy change as a big deal for users. The real issue has to do with those who make a living from their photographs.
Particularly, photographers who earn their living from their intellectual property, to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. Many artists are already struggling to stay alive in these tough economic times. Typically photographers use social media to promote there works so they may be hired by potential clients.
While a photographer does not expect to be paid for self promotion he does how ever expect to be paid when a company or individual uses there artwork to promote there own business or propaganda. In reality, artwork is used to sell products and services all the time so why does Instagram, Facebook and other social media outlets feel they are the exception to the rule? Social media provides a vehicle for people to express them selves. This is a service that is generally provided free of in exchange for web traffic that in tern makes money for said social media company. This relationship is strictly symbiotic. Without one you can not have the other to survive. This point is proven when 500,000 accounts where closed in one day thus putting a lot of pressure on Instrgram.
Every time a social media outlet violates a users trust or changes users polices that negatively effect its users it ultimately causes a mass exodus. As history proves the relationship with myspace and its users when myspace decided to radically reinvent myspace's users experience. particularly with the overwhelming ad placement and the removal of the myspace forums.
The reason why Facebook is still alive is because Mark Zuckerberg was smart in realizing the power of low key advertising and easy user interface and laid back policy.
However, today, Facebook, policy is pushing its limits with its users, and as we have seen with Instrgram mistakes as well as myspace folly, this could spell out the end of Facebook. Particularly, if it continues to disrespect users intellectual rights and there right to privacy. IE selling or giving away users personal information to corporations and governments. Generally speaking the masses will support any social media outlet that does not hinder function or freedom of expression respectively.
Over the recent years many examples of abusive internet terms of service (TOS) policies have sprung up all over the internet, over intellectual property rights of photos; particularly copyrighted photos. Most notably internet stock image services. As a result of this abuse, many well known photographers dropped out of the internet stock image market because it wasn't paying well enough to invest the many hours, resources and finances to produce these high quality images.
Often times, big corporations will be against piracy or theft, yet when they spend millions on lawyers, creating legal binding document that essentially tells its users they have no choice but to give up there intellectual property rights, in order to use a social media service or product with no room to negotiate, or have any real say in the matter, because the corporations know they have more money, resources, and vicious lawyers to fight any legal battle that comes their way. The only real choice here is to opt out of using social media all together, but in many cases photographers need social media to promote their work and business. Just as many other hard working business men and women try to do.
As an artist myself, I can understand the anger people experience when they realize their work is being whored out with no projection of financial compensation offered to them, and the fear that you as an artist can't continue creating artwork, because no one is willing to pay for your service, rather steal it, on the unjust premise of legal document terms and conditions.
Among the communities who protested was modelmayhem.com, which has a large number of well known, well respected and famous photographers and they too have caused an outrageous uproar over this issue.
People within the artist community often recognize and empathize with this Saying:
"I am an artist. This does not mean I will work for free. I have bills just like you. thank you for understanding."