Rant Warning: Instagram and Facebook – they’re all evil and stealing my photos!

Intagram Devil

“Everything has to be free, and no you’re not allowed to make money off me in any way whatsoever!” Collectively we have become a whiny, spoiled community of hypocritical leeches expecting other people to do stuff for us, but without offering anything of our own (money or otherwise) in return.

We all knew it was coming, not exactly what, when or how, but that something bad was going to happen to our beloved Instagram once the Internet’s dark lord, Facebook, bought them last Spring. There was an uproar this morning when popular photo-sharing site Instagram announced changes to their terms of service that meant it has the perpetual right to sell users’ photographs without payment or notification.

Being a photographer who works for a camera gear website, my Facebook news feed was flooded with people utterly disgusted with the change and I’d like to address that. As creative professionals, we love to bitch about how people expect us to work for free, but we also don’t hesitate for a second to chastise someone else when they try to make a little money.

Instagram is a free app, so is Facebook. Don’t like how they use your information? Stop using their service. Do you have any idea how many man hours it takes to build and maintain something like that little free app on your phone? How many talented developers (who are also creators, artists of their medium) it took to create that thing that make your life easier, lets you connect with friends and family and helps you generate more business? I can almost guarantee that each of these photographers on my feed have had at least dozens of business leads through social media channels, and that’s money in their pockets. Money they would not have if it weren’t for the hard work of the people at Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and the hundreds of other marketing tools out there.

So when these companies try to find some way to monetize their product, everyone throws a hissy fit and calls foul. We are a generation of digital entitlement. The generation that pirates music, movies, software and anything else we can get our grubby little hands on. “I should be able to use your thing for free, because it’s not hurting anyone, but the big evil faceless corporations”. We only give a hoot when it’s our work that gets exploited. We do it all the time, “I should be able to use your song on my slideshow without paying a licencing fee, but you’re not allowed to use my photos because they’re mine!” It’s the same complaint every time and I’m sick of it. Not that I agree with the new terms of use policy, I’m just sick of people complaining, without taking action. They go on using the app, but with a chip on the shoulder. They’ll post status updates to the tune of “deleting Instagram,” “killing Instagram,” “goodbye Instagram” But in reality they go right on using the product. Why? Because it’s a useful product. Well then don’t you think the creators should be compensated for making it? It’s been said a gabillion times before, if you didn’t pay for the product, you are the product.

At the end of the day, the new changes won’t affect 99.9 percent of users. Your poorly framed, over-exposed snapshot of your omelet cooking skills won’t be featured in any cooking magazines. But please, please, please if you really think the new changes are unfair, switch services and use any one of these 11 Instagram alternatives, I’m sure the dip in users will prompt Instagram to reconsider and adjust accordingly, but the reality is there will be no noticeable change in usage and we’re all going to have to deal with it. Btw, if anyone is still with me, here’s what the update really means.