Popular photo sharing service Instagram is facing a user backlash after the company revealed new terms of service this week. The fine print, that takes effect on January 16th, is the first big policy change to Instagram since Facebook acquired the service earlier this year. The new ToS grants Instagram the right to license all public photos to companies or organizations, as well as use them for advertising. CNET suggests that this could effectively turn the site into a stock photo service without the benefit of fees paid to photographers.
Instagram photo export services soar in popularity
Instagram's policy change is more than likely a move to protect against future issues with the company using photos in promotional collages rather than a new way to generate revenue, but that's not how users see it. A quick search on Twitter for Instagram brings up the usual photo sharing tweets, but mixed within the results are instruction for how to export Instagram pics out of the service and cancel accounts as the news spreads. Instaport, a service that allows you to export all of your Instagram photos to a ZIP archive, is buckling under the strain with a notice on its home page that the service is "expecting high traffic right now," while exports are failing under the load during our own tests. Copygram, a rival service that exports Instagram photos, is holding up ok so far, but the increased use of these services indicates users aren't happy with the way the terms of service changes were communicated.
I deleted Instagram and switched over to Flickr. I will try and keep up with everyone's photos here and FB.— Tiffany(@TPost82) December 18, 2012
Zuckerberg ruins everything. Good thing I already downloaded Flickr. The app does just as many cool things as Instagram does.— Kim Rasmussen (@Kim_Rasmussen1) December 18, 2012
Instagram's iOS app was recently updated to alter the image cropping functionality, a move that has also created some negative feedback in app store ratings. The change prevents users from sharing images with black bars due to the square format used by the service, with the app automatically forcing users to post a square image rather than zooming out. Instagram's iOS app change comes at the same time as version 2.0 of the iPhone Flickr client started rolling out and Twitter added its own filters. With Instagram's recent stumbles, including the Twitter image sharing alteration, the web photo sharing market looks wide open again after Yahoo squandered its early lead.
The photo sharing market looks wide open again
With a nicely redesigned client and support for filters, Flickr is finally catching up to battle Instagram on the photo sharing front. And its dormant community of lapsed Pro users (who are required to pay a nominal fee each year) could be awakened after Instagram users realize they’re the product of advertisers. It could be a temporary backlash, the same type we witness whenever Facebook adjusts its news feed, but competitors are ready this time and Twitter and Flickr are waiting in the wings for a share of Instagram's unhappy user base.