Instagram had made one of the most important changes in its marketing policy since this social network was bought by Facebook and its financing by advertising was announced. As the company itself has stated, from January 16th, 2014 onwards, Instagram will be able to sell to a third party the pictures that the users had uploaded in this social network if they consider this appropriate, without paying anything to the author and without giving any prior notice. This news has raised a lot of alarms and the users of this social network have made their confusion and displeasure well known all around the world.
From now on, any picture that appears on Instagram can be bought by any other company to be used with any end (even with publicity purposes). A third party can do all this through a direct negotiation with Instagram and not with the picture’s author. The only way we can avoid that Instagram will be entitled to use our picture in any way it wants is to delete our profile in this social network before January 16th.
This policy isn’t new on Internet and, in fact, it is beginning to be the general rule. This news had been made public only days after Youtube modified its algorithms and after the claims of copyright infringement against this page have multiplied. The main goal of this kind of policy seems to be for the users to lose all the control they should have over their creations, being these pictures or videos, and for the platforms to have the total control over the publication and distribution of the works they host.
For example, it’s like one painter exhibits one of his/her paintings in a museum and the individuals responsible for that museum decide unilaterally that they can sell that painting to whoever they want. The only difference is that Instagram has an enormous potential, not only artistic, but social as well.
Ultimately, one of the main goals that Instagram (and, by extension, of Facebook) wants to achieve adopting this measure is to commercialize our personal information. From our pictures and from the circle of friends we have in the social networks, experts can obtain a lot of information about us and there are a lot of companies that are willing to pay a lot of money for this information (don’t forget that information is power). To sell this pictures or information to a third party can have a lot of unpleasant consequences: on the one hand, they are selling without our consent something we have created on our own; on the other hand, we will never know in which hands this information is going to end or the use the people who had bought it is going to make of it.
If, until now, the only worries of Instagram’s users were related to the wish to obtain more followers or to buy likes on Instagram, from now on they are going to have a very serious problem: to know that their pictures are susceptible to become a merchandise, whatever they want them to be or not.