Instagram Faces Challenges And Changes In 2012

By December 20, 2012Social Media

Social media sites survive based on the happiness of their users, as Instagram has come to discover in the final weeks of 2012. For the photo sharing site, the year has been filled with a Twitter spat, Facebook acquisition, advertising rumors, and a privacy policy fiasco (not necessarily in that order). Rather than making progress as a business, the company has been responding to complaints, addressing rumors, and fervently apologizing for confusing language and terms. 

 

The three most significant Instagram headlines of 2012 are:

  • Facebook Acquisition
  • Twitter War
  • Privacy Policy

Facebook Acquires Instagram for $1 Billion:

Instagram Joins Facebook

In April, Facebook purchased the photo sharing platform for a mere $1 billion. The purchase brought the mobile platform and its staff of a mere 9 employees under the Facebook umbrella. At the time, Mark Zuckerberg declared that the sharing capabilities of Instagram would not be limited by Facebook, and users would retain the ability to follow users who were not necessarily their “friends”. Sharing, too, would remain available on other platforms outside Facebook (i.e. Twitter).

The Instagram team seemed stoked about the new developments, sharing on the site’s blog:

“We’re psyched to be joining Facebook and are excited to build a better Instagram for everyone.”

When Facebook Camera launched the following month, there was speculation the social media giant would kill off Instagram to make way for its own application, in spite of assurances from Instagram that it would not happen. This turned out to be false, and both apps are available for download today.

Instagram Wages War With Twitter:

On December 9, Twitter announced via its blog that Instagram had disabled photo integration with Twitter. While users can still share Instagram links on the site, the images can not be previewed on Twitter. That means when I shared a TwitPic photo on my Twitter account:

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And tweeting an Instagram photo gives you this:

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Followed by a trip to Instagram.com:

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While the change isn’t the end of the world, it does remove a level of convenience that existed with the previous method. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom maintained that the company would always remain integrated with Twitter.

In a statement to Mashable, Sysytom announced,

“A handful of months ago, we supported Twitter cards because we had a minimal web presence. We’ve since launched several improvements to our website that allow users to directly engage with Instagram content through likes, comments, hashtags and now we believe the best experience is for us to link back to where the content lives.”

December 10, Twitter announced on its blog the ability for users to add filters and edit photos from directly within the app, without relying on Instagram. The upcoming filters were first reported in November, and are now available when tweeting photos directly from Twitter.

The back-and-forth “improvements” and changes will continue to develop into 2013, as Instagram claims it continues to evolve in the interests of the best user experience.

Instagram Publishes New Privacy Policy:

If the average user has heard anything about Instagram this year, it is most likely the updates to the Privacy Policy that will take affect in January 2013.

Language in the updated policy implied that the site and its owner, Facebook, would be allowed access to a users information, photos, and data without compensation for purposes including advertising. Backlash was swift and loud, with users preparing to delete their accounts and wondering how to remove all of their photos from the site permanently. Some were less than concerned.

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The updates coincide perfectly with Twitter upgrades and a revamped Flickr, giving users plenty of options if they decide to jump the Instagram ship.

Instagram quickly took to its blog to defend the intentions of the policy and assure users that their complaints were heard. Asserting that the sale and use of users photos for advertising purposes was never part of the plan, the company vowed to remove the language from the policy before it is implemented on January 16.

 

Moving Forward in 2013:

After a year of controversy and putting out fires, Instagram can hope to start 2013 with a clean slate. Assuming, of course, the world doesn’t end tomorrow.

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