Instagram’s new terms of service unlikely to prove costly

The backlash against Instagram’s new new terms of service this morning continues to build, and the mainstream press and tech blogs are scrambling to find story angles. All Things D offers tips on how to complain about the new policies, oddly adding that Mark Zuckerberg’s wedding photographer is among the displeased users; Matthew Bostock of The Kernel protests to the photo-sharing service that he is “not your product;” and ZDNet flatly tells users to get over it. Predictably, The Atlantic takes the more level-headed view of explaining why users should want to pay for software rather than relying on an ad-supported model.

The biggest question in my mind, though, is whether Instagram truly loses many users due to the flap. My colleague Mike Wolf has pointed out that convenience is the only real cost of switching photo-sharing apps, and it’s true that some other appealing offerings are available free in Apple’s App Store and Google Play. (Flickr could end up benefiting here in a big way, as The Verge suggests.) But I’m not convinced that Instagram and Facebook will suffer much from this brouhaha. Many users won’t really care what Instagram is doing with their pictures, and some might even be thrilled if they’re used in marketing material. And most mainstream users probably won’t even be aware of Instagram’s new policies. The tech world may be up in arms, but I don’t think this will spread.

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Colin Gibbs

Colin Gibbs

Mobile Curator Gigaom Network

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  1. Your photo library and your friends’ connections to it constitute a *huge* switching cost. That’s one of the main reasons Facebook bought Instagram.

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