If You Want to Leave Instagram You’re Using it Wrong

instagram tos changesHoly crap, people. Really?

Every time one of these social networks tweaks their terms of service to work with the changing environment that is their business model, people lose their sh*t. Have we not grown any perspective from what happened last weekend? If you haven’t, that’s not my message for this post anyway so you can just feel bad by yourself.

For those who’ve been hiding under a rock the last day or so, Instagram announced they were changing their Privacy Policy. Then, the media misconstrued the information and put the public into a raging panic by saying that Instagram is going to sell your photos to advertisers on Facebook and you get none of the money and no ability to opt out. So naturally if you want a say, you must leave altogether, thus starting #BoycottInstagram. And then Instagram responded and said, no really. That’s not going to happen the way you people are saying it is. Please calm down while you feverishly continue to post on Instagram all mad and stuff. (P.S. Thanks for using our platform to share your feelings because that really shows how much you plan to leave.)

Regardless of what the truth is, here is what is most important to note. Does Instagram have the ability to do what they want with your photos? YES. Why? YOU’RE USING THEIR PLATFORM. Reality check.

I keep hearing people say they’re leaving Instagram and they found other platforms they like with much better options and they can’t wait to snub the new photo satan. And to that I say:

Instagram is not a tool. It’s a network.

There are not better photo-sharing platforms.

There are better targeted audiences.

If you’ve been using Instagram to display your beautiful photography and feel you need to leave because your work cannot be sold to various advertisers (if that’s even true after all this), then that’s fine. But everyone needs a little reminder that when you use a platform that’s not yours, you’re getting access to a network built for you to advertise yourself on.

But you do not own it. Those who giveth can also taketh away. So maybe it’s time to let them monetize without lighting our hair on fire so we can continue to take advantage of the incredible user base Instagram has built for us. Maybe?

Agree? Disagree? Think I’m crazy?


  1. I’ve seen some crazy reactions as well; I can only speak for myself.
    In my case, the Instagram terms of service change is the final straw that’s pushing me to move away from Facebook/Instagram.
    I understand that on a free platform, users will usually give up some rights in exchange for the benefits of the service.  In my case, I’m not getting enough benefit out of Facebook and Instagram that it outweighs my annoyance with continued abuse from the company.  I published an article today called <a href=”http://aaronhockley.com/facebook-walmart-of-the-internet/”>Facebook as the Walmart of the Internet</a> that explains a bit more using an offline analogy.
    Much like some shoppers choose not to buy from Walmart based on the company’s practices, I’m choosing not to use Facebook’s services.  That said, I understand that others see no problem and are willing to make those tradeoffs.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Aaron. I completely get where you’re coming from and wanting to leave is natural. If you’re not benefiting from the platform then you definitely shouldn’t waste your time there. Thanks for sharing the Walmart/Facebook article as well. I can see the analogy, but I don’t think I agree with it just yet.

  2. NicoleWonderlin

    The CNET article was way overly dramatic and most people should realize that as soon as you post a photo onto any type of social sharing network, it’s out there for the world to see/share/take/print. Instagram lawyers were a little tricksy in their wording to leave a lot of possibilities on the table, but most of the speculation is Fox News-worthy at best. If Instagram decided to really use one of my photos (my entire feed is pretty much cupcakes and beagles), then I’d be tickled pink.

    1. @NicoleWonderlin haha seriously. I love how overly protected people are about their photos that someone wouldn’t likely want to use them. For those people who are saying “what about the children?! You can’t sell photos of the underage children!” I say, why are you taking pictures of your children and putting them on the internet? Instagram isn’t the only one that can take your photo and do something with it! Ugh. Thanks for your comment, Nicole! Glad to hear we’re on the same page.

  3. andyzoric

    IF, and I capitalize that on purpose, Instagram wishes to sell your photos and become a repository of stock photography, then the statement they released on is counter-intuitive to that ends. 
    If selling your instagrams becomes the revenue side of Instagram then there needs to be an incentive for it’s user base to take photos of such quality as to garner a third party to want to pay for them.  Incentives can usually be made in the form of cash. 
    So I’m not overly concerned about the TOU of instagram, since most of my photos are of my cat or action figures with word bubbles.  You know things that aren’t going to end up being on the cover of a Wheaties box.
    Maybe this is just a head-fake to get people to not realize the next business move, and make the day when they pay users seem so much better.  Or I could just be overly optimistic.   
    If not, there’s also an opportunity for “insa-watermark”.  A separate app that would put a watermark on your photos making them commercially unusable. 
    But if Zuckerberg and co. want to make money, incentives are the way to do it. 
    follow me on Instagram or Twitter @andyzoric

    1. timsmith777

      @andyzoric I would just like some royalties from all my macaroni and cheese artistic approach to food photos. 🙂

      1. @timsmith777  @andyzoric Brilliant point, Andy and thanks for the comment. I totally agree. I would be shocked, and maybe I wouldn’t be, if my adorable dog Lucy helped some advertiser. But hey, I’ve got enough of her to go around. And I’ve been wanting to use my watermark app for awhile! Good thinking there! I have iWatermark on my phone.

  4. Joe Giessler

    While I agree with you, I also manage a brand page and therefore perception can become reality. If there is a mass exodus of users from instagram – justified or not – the need for us as a brand to be in the space is diminished.

  5. timsmith777

    Hey Amy, When are you going to start training us. we love all of your Great info you offer on YouTube and your blog. It will be great if you put a package together for each social media site. Tricks, Tips and The daily checklist… I know I’m believe you can put an awesome package together for all your followers.
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    1. @timsmith777 I have some great plans to come for the new year. I know I’ve been a blogging fool this year and not much else, but I really needed to get my content up here and I’ve done that. So expect some opportunities to dig deeper next year!

  6. Steven Stiefel

    I am a professional photographer, so for them to say they’re going to sell my images for advertising, I’m cutting my own throat if I continue to use their platform.

  7. Thank you & high five! I read the new terms and felt…well, nothing. Then I saw the press and social media alarmists freaking out and I was like what the hell?

  8. Hassan Mirza

    I hear you Amy, totally team Instagram here too. And I’m really interested in how they’ll experiment with UGC and brand campaigns. They best social campaigns are based on the principle of crowdsourcing… And this is done on FB/Twitter constantly. Either way, despite ‘exodus’ from Instagram ( I doubt this, I bet their userbase has grown since this) it’s a great network – and it’s def a mistake to leave. this story could be a PR stunt – it’s made the covers of all the London papers.

  9. Hassan Mirza

    Oh god professional photographers and their fear of digital copyright makes me ill. Play the game people. The most successful photographers of the future will be super social savvy.

  10. Shaun Simpson

    I’m still waiting for the mass Facebook exodus that was going to happen last time they changed their policies.

  11. Steven Stiefel

    Sorry you have such disdain for a professional photographer, Hassan. I guess i should just let Instagram sell my work out from under me.

  12. Savvy Sexy Social

    Steven Stiefel I get where you’re coming from. Honestly I do. You do what you have to do for your work. I really don’t think this is going to pan out the way everyone is saying it is so I hope you give them some time before you decide to leave because I think the network is still really beneficial to photographers. But whatever you have to do to protect your work is always respected. Especially with me. It’s the people who are calling themselves “photographers” because of what they’ve built on Instagram that I have a problem with.

  13. Steven Stiefel

    Savvy Sexy Social if they had approached this from a revenue-sharing perspective, I would be Instagram’s number 1 cheerleader right now, but instead they got me hooked on the instant gratification of feedback and then tried to sneak this in on us without so much as an opt-out option. Damned sloppy, if you ask me.

  14. Hassan Mirza

    Hey Steven, i don’t have a problem with professional photographers, i work with many of them myself. However I do have a problem with unreasonable paranoia from visual artists/photographers, etc about digital copyright. There are ways to protect yourself which – watermarking, SEO techniques, building your social media presence, etc. When people refuse to learn this stuff, they’ll lose out to competitors who get it.

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