The response to the news that Instagram have changed their integration with Twitter has me puzzled… really puzzled. I’m not puzzled as to why Instagram chose to do so, as they see it, they want more control of the data and user experience for themselves. I’m also not puzzled that Twitter have done similar things in the past, for example to LinkedIn. No, what really puzzles me has been the response from the tech community… the community normally so enamoured with the idea of being an entrepreneur and making a truckload of cash (and possibly saving the world in the process).
Part of the argument (the “breaking the spirit of Web 2.0” part) is that these businesses may build their systems on the back of open platforms. As Instagram has admitted, at the start they didn’t have a presence and frictionless integration with Twitter made sense – in marketing we do this all the time to help build awareness, it’s called “sampling”. But these things can’t last if the company wants to make money as they must. The same thing can be said of everything Facebook has been doing since it started.
>>> Update: What on earth were Instagram thinking? They’ve properly screwed their users now. Appropriating user data is one thing, but unilaterally claiming ownership is on a completely different level! Photography like any intellectual property has economic value (I’m guessing they know this bit). This doesn’t just mildly annoy users, it’s theft. It’s like iTunes unilaterally deciding that all the content on iTunes is now owned by Apple.
Worse still, Instagram turned a what could have been a really useful revenue stream – sale of user content from a potential win (if the rights were shared with users) to a massive own goal.
User data is pretty abstract, you wouldn’t expect much of a backlash, this is something a bit different.