"If it's free..." and the challenge of getting people to care

"If you want to stop social networking services from exploiting your likeness for advertising," writes Alexis Madrigal, "you've got to start paying up." But how do you convince them to, if, as Henry Blodget adds, "The truth about Instagram's horrifying new terms of service: No one will care."


  1. I guess what you’re saying is you’re going to start charging for Boingboing.net because our eye balls and the ads you put in front of them are not enough? 

      1. me, no. I’m cheap and am happy to see the ads (at least here on Boingboing.net) but if you had the option (like some sites do) I certainly wouldn’t be against it.

        As for the original article which I assume was related to Instagram I’d just switch to something else that was free. FB, G+, there’s lots of ways to share photos.

        I think the reality is, like news, charging mostly doesn’t make sense except for very specialized news because someone else is always willing to give it out for free.Arguably the smart thing to do for Instagram would be to figure out some way to cut the creators, us, in on the take like Youtube does (assuming that’s even possible with images). That would seem like it might turn a negative into a positive.

          1. Perhaps donated would be a better word than paid.  Even if people offer software for free sometimes they like to get paid if you enjoy using it.

          2. This would be more apt.  I donated because I felt like they had performed a service that I felt was worth supporting.  By showing appreciation in a financial way it is more likely they’ll keep ABP going for the next browser that comes along.

      2. I’d be more likely to pay if instead of just omitting ads the pages were restructured to fill those spaces as well.  Right now, as I see the front page, content probably takes up close to 50% of the horizontal space, with ads being roughly 25% and white space another 25%.  If you expanded the content to 75% I’d be more willing to pay for that in conjunction with eliminating ads.

        1. Expanding content to fill all the available space is not always as good an idea as it sounds. People find it easier to read something like 10-13 words per line http://baymard.com/blog/line-length-readability . Make the line too long and it becomes less comfortable to read. So would you like your text bigger to fill the space? Personally I think text is a healthy size on boingboing anyway. I wouldn’t mind, though, just doing away with the right column and centralising the main content (at the same or *slightly* increased width).

  2. I care!

    But I don’t have an instagram or facebook account, and never have, so my “caring” is pretty irrelevant. They’re not losing anything by alienating me further.

    1. They probably would, but they certainly don’t have to.  It is possible for people to pay for a service and not get bent over coming and going by the service provider.

      1. I paid for a Pinboard account and have had no complaints.
        I believe the developer has charged for accounts from the beginning precisely to avoid the whole issue of trying to monetize a free service.

  3. hey can someone open up the comments on Xeni’s article on Instagram changes? She ends the article with a question but the comments are closed. (this was the only place I could find to post this – sorry if it’s the wrong spot)

  4. I think this is reasonable, assuming that the uploader fully understands what they are giving away (I’m amazed their lawyers are getting away with the less than 18 years old bit). It is going to be really sad when Jane Smith takes a snapshot that she uploads to instascam and it becomes an iconic photo that makes them a butt load of cash, and Jane isn’t going to see any of it.

    They can keep all of the world’s collection of yellow self portraits, that’s fine.

    1. but then there’s also the problem that if there’s another person in the photo they have not agreed to have their image used. There’s no model release.

      1. An agreement between you and instagram cannot defeat the rights of others. Are you sure it works like that?
        If this were true, photographers would have been releasing their photo’s rights to a”corporation” many years ago.

  5. I don’t know that nobody will care. People that I like and admire in my niche of the Internet have moved back to Flickr. I too dusted off my Flickr account yesterday and started adding pictures to it. Within the past week I’ve had more contact requests than I have in the last two years. 
    A lot of people will switch back. Will it be enough to be noticeable to Instagram? Who knows, but it’s starting to feel like Facebook only bought it so they could kill it.  

    ETA: The handful of celebrities I follow on Twitter are starting to rumble about the changes and talking about closing their accounts, and looking for alternatives.

  6. I’m not holding my breath; but it would be a sweet irony if the wacky new ToS caused just the right people to care, and just the wrong people to not care…

    With a possible outlier among recreational privacy nuts(some of whom may incidentally be interesting photographers or otherwise notable; but whose concern about ToS changes is not mainly driven by these factors), the more interesting your body of work, or the more interested you are in cultivating yourself as a celebrity/notable, the more the more displeased you would likely be by ToS language that allows the operator to appropriate your material for their own purposes at any time.

    It would be very entertaining, then, if instagram managed to drive away most of their most talented or motivated people, leaving them still paying the bandwidth bill for a bunch of uninteresting happy-snaps and material from minors who(clever legal wording nonwithstanding) are probably a lawsuit waiting to happen the moment somebody worth suing steps into the picture. The odds that they’ll drive away all their users are next to nil; but they might drive away the ones that were actually worth keeping and be left with the ones that are almost as expensive to serve; but a whole lot less interesting…

  7. They’re really opening themselves up to problems with this. 

    Like Dave Sheldon points out here ( http://seattleipguy.tumblr.com/post/38238067044/instagram-wont-be-putting-most-of-your-photos-in-ads ) the problem with photos is actually two-fold:

    (1) who owns the copyright in the photo, 
    (2) obtaining a release of the publicity rights of any people depicted in the photo.

    So sure, the user retains copyright of the photo, which Instgram is force-licensing through their ToS, but they can’t force-license the publicity right of people in photos. So maybe Instagram could license a picture of a bowl of fruit or something, but they’re going to be hard pressed to get releases from photo subjects. 

    Furthermore, (as I point here: http://associatesmind.com/2012/12/18/you-dont-own-anything-instagram-edition/ ) this is a crazy reverse of current licensing schemes as currently used. 

    Courts have upheld that publishers own content and “license” it to users. IE – Companies can remotely alter/delete content (or restrict sale) on devices you own because you don’t actually own the game/book. Applying the same reasoning courts have exercised previously, then Instgram users should have the same right to remotely modify/alter/delete any licensed content.

  8. I cared enough to delete my instagram account this morning. I really liked it, but I kind of feel like I was in a boat that sprang a leak. Better to nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. 

  9. In all of the doom-and-gloom articles about how Instagram is evil now and it’s ruined 5evar, it has never been explained to my satisfaction why I should care. So Instagram can sell my photos? So what? I can understand why some people with an aptitude for photography would care, but for the average user who takes average photos on a poor-quality cameraphone, _why_ should they mind?

  10. Why is BoingBoing contributing to this FUD, when they have championed free-and-open-source apps in the past?

    Microsoft charges a premium for the ability to play online on on it’s video game console. And the ability to watch sports, Netflix(subscription separate), Amazon video(subscription separate), Hulu(subscription separate), etc.

    40% of the homescreen is ads. You expect Facebook to be different. What about Cable TV? Hulu Plus?

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