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What Facebook's Changes Mean for Instagram
By: Jessica Cherok
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When Facebook bought Instagram in April 2011, a lot of people worried that Instagram would fall under the same troubled privacy policies of its new parent company. But instead of adopting Facebook’s policies et al, Instagram chose to continue operating under its same Terms of Use. Now, everything could change.

In light of the proposed changes to Facebook’s Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, the issue of privacy, sharing, and advertising on Instagram is coming up once again.

You may have noticed that when clicking on an Instagram photo in Twitter, you are now directed to Instagram’s website and the recent announcement of Instagram’s new web portal for viewing its photos. Now, Instagram has completely done away with its instant integration with Twitter. While this may all be part of Instagram’s moving away from being mobile-only, it is certainly also part of Facebook’s plan to monetize everything it can.

Under the proposed changes, Facebook would be able to share information with its affiliates, one of which is Instagram. According to Facebook, the changes are all part of “industry standards” and will allow them to streamline data sharing and storage between the two. Facebook also clarified that when additional user consent was required, they would certainly seek it.

In case you aren’t totally clear on what that means for you, here’s the bottom line: very soon there will be ads on Instagram. Very, very soon.

That is, unless enough people voted against Facebook’s proposed changes to their Data Use Policy and the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. And that seems unlikely. As of the voting app’s opening last week, only 3% of the needed 30% of Facebook users had voted. But of that 3%, over 80% had voted against the proposed changes.

The low voter turn out is unfortunate, albeit expected. Facebook users have traditionally been pretty lackluster in their participation. That is part of the reason Facebook is seeking to eliminating the voting system altogether; and if Facebook is really trying to morph into a super company like Google, it makes sense for it to do away with that pesky voting system now before it really hinders their progression.

Just how much Facebook’s changes will impact Instagram users won’t be known until the votes are tallied, but it’s pretty safe to say what was proposed will become the new policies. But whether or not a whole new onslaught of data sharing and targeted advertising is enough to sour people on using Facebook or Instagram may take a lot longer to find out.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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