Feature: Soapbox Musings

Facebook and Instagram: Tech Giant Transgressions of 2012

Author: Christina Thomas
Published: December 20, 2012 at 5:40 am

As the year vaults toward a close, we place the tech giants in our crosshairs – not so much for critique, as for assessment. What can we expect from Facebook in 2013, given its so-so IPO launch a few months back, its much-maligned Couples Pages’ options (or lack of options, to be accurate), their on-going privacy issues, and the unsettling feeling that the rule of law is a booklet placed squarely in the “Suggestions” box at their Menlo Park HQ.

Most currently, of course, the recently-acquired Instagram resolutely continues Facebook’s unwitting customer-annoyance policy. A sneakily-written TOS (I know – that’s almost redundant ) allowed Instagram to share and profit your photos once you downloaded and started using their app. And get this; they keep all the proceeds.

In an age when Google Adsense and other ad-sharing networks give you the larger share of the take when they utilize your content, Facebook/Instagram felt it was a game-changing move to take it all. It seems like the Instagram isn’t free after all….

Even when the social networking giant isn’t playing goose with actual laws, its stark disinterest in what its customers don’t want makes it seem that people are little more than machines into which you feed ads and expect to churn out revenue. Just because you’re in it for the money (absolutely nothing wrong with that), doesn’t mean you have to rip us off. Photographs have value, and if they’re going to be sold, then owners should be paid. People aren’t using Instagram to see the Christmas photos of their daughter being used in a Honda Accord advertisement – certainly not without due permission and compensation. In a year in which everyone will want your photographs for extending the reach of their platforms, perhaps the eventual winner will simply be the most honest suitor.

Can we hope for reformation in 2013 or will the smiling purveyors of our electronic world continue to try and jeopardize our personal information at every unwatched turn? What responsibility do we have to protect ourselves from ourselves? How do we “control” (do we want to?) our teenagers and even younger from filling the cyberspace-lanes with personal information just because they want to keep in touch with their friends? The easiest answer may also be the most frightening – we can’t.


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Article Author: Christina Thomas

Christina Thomas is currently an astrophysics grad student who blogs about Finance, and also helps provide content for the Vivariums Tank hub in her very limited spare time. With her partner, she owns and controls several websites like her personal …

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