Apparently, not a few people have been bothered by the news that Facebook, the world’s biggest social network site, has bought the Instagram app for USD1 billion. Disgruntled fans of the photo-sharing app have been quick to express their disappointment at the development. Twitter and other on-line fora and blogs have come alive with negative reactions and depictions of Facebook as the evil corporate monster trampling over a defenseless community of creative, free-spirited people.
Negative tweets include Twitter user Charlie Robinson who griped, “Guess it’s time to delete my instagram app before Facebook ruins it,” while El Nino Garcia wrote ,”Nice. facebook just bought instagram. Another thing to delete.”
Crimson Hexagon, an outfit that studies social media content (see here : http://www.crimsonhexagon.com/), revealed that just 12 per cent of the 201,000 relevant Tweets of the take-over were positive, while ten per cent registered their disgust with Facebook , and another ten per cent promised to quit Instagram.
Instagram shares the same basic mission with Facebook, which became immensely popular because it encouraged people to build virtual networks on which to share their lives. However, for its 30-million plus users, the difference lies in the perception that the cult- status app has a very different identity to that of mass-market Facebook. Facebook is so
commercial, it has advertising, it sells users’ personal details to advertisers. Instagram has none of those, and remains as pure as it is single-minded. Although the main point is to share snaps, which can look cooler by filter-editing them, Instagram’s mobile-to-mobile traffic is viewed as safe as compared to the accompanying privacy problems of Facebook’s advertiser-
New York Times tech blogger Jenna Wortham opined that Instagram gave its users a little breathing room by allowing them to delicately toe the line between public and private, and to see that taken away is a tangible loss. She added that the sale of Instagram brought “…a harsh reality into focus, the realization that the secret rooms or private spaces on-line where we can share, chit-chat and hang out with our friends are fading. The few safe havens that do exist are quickly being encroached upon or are next on the shopping list for a company like Google, Apple or Facebook.”
New York magazine, for another, compared Facebook to an alien spaceship and noted that for “some users, this looks like a sellout. And that’s because it is.”
Trying to calm the restlessness, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg went out of his way on his own Facebook page to reassure Instagram purists that they needn’t get their hands dirty, that Instagram users can maintain their photos off Facebook and also keep their Instagram followers separate. He stressed that the company for its part needs to be aware about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features instead of integrating everything into Facebook, a statement which garnered over 140,000 “likes.” Other positive commentsincluded “great decision” and “congrats!”
The purchase of Instagram, of course, comes just before Facebook starts trading as a public company come May, when it is expected to cash in even more, so buying Instagram for a cool billion hardly seems costly.
Questions on why Facebook took this path give rise to speculations. For one, Instagram is a competitor in its own way to Facebook’s photo-sharing feature, so it may have decide to nip the upstart in the bud. As for users leaving Instagram and keeping their photos off-line in their desktops, maybe these people are wary of and don’t like Facebook’s privacy policies, or maybe they are iPhone owners who didn’t like its recent availability to Android phones. Others go back to the dot.com days of the 90’s since here is another mega-buy-out when just recently Zynga paid USD200 million to OMG Pop for its Draw Something app.
Instagram is a free app so earning back the USD1 billion looks far-off, but if the buy-out will enhance Facebook’s photo-sharing experience then that is another story. Instagram photos can still be shared on Twitter, and if it is to be run independently of Facebook, then the privacy issue should not matter. Then again, Facebook can bring Instagram quietly into its fold and impose its conditions; after all, Facebook users did agree to its terms when they signed up years ago.
However Instagram turns up under Facebook’s realm, a picture’s worth a thousand words, or in this case, a billion dollars. Of course no one hopes it’ll turn out to be like the cheap cell phones no contract deal.
Based on the 10 Apr 2012 and 12 Apr 2012 posts of Alfred Siew and Sebastian Smith of Techgoondu and AFP News, respectively, as they appeared on Yahoo! News.