Social MediaTech

Why Do People Want to #BoycottInstagram

If you logged on to Twitter today, you may have noticed the trending hashtag #BoycottInstagram. At first glance you may have wondered what this is all about. Instagram is a social media darling, so why would that hashtag trending? The first thing to understand is that Facebook acquired Instagram back in April of 2012. This by itself is not a huge deal, though I personally am not a fan of Facebook when it comes to their business decisions and privacy policy issues. Well it seems that a new policy update¬†for Instagram has upset tons of people. It basically states that they can use and sell your personal photos without notifying you or paying you anything. Some people say this will turn Instagram into a new iStockPhoto but the difference is you won’t have control to stop them from using your images and won’t get paid for them when they sell them to third parties.

I would like to say I am shocked by this move, but honestly I think Facebook has been a disaster since they got started. This is typical for a company like Facebook that has been in trouble for privacy issues since it started. Essentially people load up all their private information in profiles that even want you to go back and create a timeline since your birth. You are creating a scannable profile better than anything a government agency could create on you. At least a government agency needs a court order to intercept your personal conversations and wiretap you, Facebook has a file with photos, and every conversation you have and your privacy and rights are minimal. Now the new Instagram policy will leave you powerless even stating you give up your rights to hold them liable through a suit or to bring a class action suit against them. If you don’t delete your account before the January deadline you will be accepting this policy. In an article I read this morning from CNet they quote an Instagram user that said the new policy update is, “Instagram’s suicide letter”. I have to say I agree. What is more troubling is the dark and shadowy trend in open seizure of rights that many online companies are doing in their policy updates right before your eyes. Enron did the same thing by doing questionable things but having it all disclosed in their complicated financial statement. That worked until someone actually read them and blew the whistle on what was going on.

Most people don’t take the time to read changes in policy or even read the terms of service when they sign up for a site. They figure whatever it is, it must be standard and fair. The fact is that companies are taking advantage of the fact that most of the people will either not read the terms of service (TOS) agreement or that they will want to use the site more than worrying about the terms of service. This is leaving people subject to very slanted agreements where companies can violate your privacy and you will have no recourse. The world of data collection is a hidden world that is allowed to run free because the internet is like the wild west. It is time that people wake up and realize you don’t sign a contract without reading it. It is time people start demanding ownership of their personal data and rights to sue if companies misuse their data. It is time to put limits on sites from scanning your data. If you don’t demand privacy they will take it from you and leave you with no rights at all. This is a very scary trend and it is already happening.

Why is nobody holding Google accountable for scanning your email messages and putting up ads they think you will be interested in based on your personal communications. Why is it than when I typed something about getting coffee in a message to a friend a Starbucks ad pops up in Facebook? It is beyond creepy, it is like a marketing company wire tapping your phone, reading your email, and intercepting all communications and then scanning them to build a file on you. These companies rarely have any restrictions on what they use your information for or who they disclose it to. It is time people wake up and demand privacy. It is time laws are passed regulating personal information. If your neighbor or a company took your mail and opened it and read it they would be breaking the law, but Facebook, Google, and many of the sites people use daily are able to get away with it. Time to stand up and say no. Without users all of these companies can do nothing. It is time for us to reclaim our information and privacy. I will be deleting my Instagram account and tweeting for others to do the same. I can give up my Instagram to send a message to all the companies that they need to change how they do business. This is the only thing they listen to, user migrations and deletion. In an age of information, it is time for some laws to protect ours. Copyright laws protect people’s information and these big companies have laws protecting their information from us using it. The only ones who have very limited rights are all of us. It’s time for a change.

Get involved, all it takes is you sharing posts on privacy and getting our rights on the minds of people. That is the power of social media. We can start a conversation that they will have to deal with if the conversation gets big enough. Do your part and protect your rights to your information. Start by Retweeting this post and others like it. We can make a difference.

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Ross Quintana

Founder of SocialMagnets, I am passionate about social media, influence, innovation, strategy, and marketing. I love to help people learn and understand the digital world. I stretch people's thinking and share my analysis of information, tools, and strategies in social media. Let's connect

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