You are here

Instagram: Facebook Captures Your Life

The latest scream is about Facebook's change in user policy affecting its newest acquisition, "Instagram". That app for digital devices allows a user to share photographs across a network and through various social networking systems. It doesn't offer anything one couldn't do already -- few of these "great new apps" do -- but it makes everything much easier.

Facebook bought Instagram a few months ago and last month that company's Mistress of Mercantilism (aka International Marketing Director) Carolyn Everson said: "Eventually we'll figure out a way to monetise Instagram." As far as you're concerned "monetise" means "watch out for flying anti-freedom objects" and, lo and behold, here comes one.

Facebook is changing the terms of usage on Instagram to allow it to "share" your photos, identity and other personal information with "third party partners". In other words, it can sell your photos or just give them away to anyone else to use in any way they want. Now, to be clear and to fend off criticisms I may get on this issue, they do not say specifically that they're going to sell anything. They just say:

"We may share your information as well as information from tools like cookies, log files, and device identifiers and location data with organisations that help us provide the service to you... (and) third-party advertising partners." Will those "advertising partners" pay for your stuff? Doesn't say. But even if there's no direct payment, there are all kinds of potential compensation and, trust me, Facebook will find a way.

So your privacy is down the drain and I've talked about the political implications of that. At the same time, your creations are being sold to some guy who might be using it to advertise stuff you don't approve of or doing ads you find repulsive (which is more likely). And just look at the scope of "sharing" they are doing. "...tools like cookies, log files and device identifiers"! In other words, these guys are giving other people the identity and location of your computer or cell phone or ipod or whatever. They are providing information that can develop a profile of your physical as well as on-line activities.

A lot of people are screaming about this and, says Facebook, don't be paranoid! "This means we can do things like fight spam more effectively, detect system and reliability problems more quickly, and build better features for everyone by understanding how Instagram is used," Well, yeah. it means that and it also means you can spread information about me, my movements, and equipment and use my photos without my blessing to make money and to spy on me. If all you wanted to do was run the systems better, why did you put all that other crap in the privacy statement? Companies write policies very carefully; those "third-party advertising partners" are in there for a reason.

And what is to prevent this company from giving up your information to the government? People tell me "they won't do that" but of course they do and will if the government asks them to and, while anti-cooperation policies can't prevent some FBI guy with a gun seizing a computer, they at least tell you the company is committed to protecting people's freedom. That's a start. Facebook is a non-starter. Instagram proves that.