Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why I Really Left Instagram

We've all heard about the big debate/issue/problem/support/controversy around Instagram's new Terms of Service that will take effect in January 2013. Instead of breaking it down like so many have already, I'm simply stating WHY I left Instagram, and leaving you to Google the articles and actual Terms. I'm not alone, as many others have and many more threaten to delete their accounts. It's a swirl of personal greed, privacy concerns, money and of course; the lack of trust in Facebook (the new owner of Instagram).
When I first heard the news, it was this morning before work – December 17th. I saw the outcry on USA Today, Mashable, Twitter and a little on Facebook. Then I got a frantic text from my own mother (who literally just signed up for Instagram this weekend) stating that she deleted her account already. I read over the new policies myself...then read them again, and again, and probably a dozen times to see if there was any good that could come of this. I couldn't see it.

I knew that Instagram would come out with a statement eventually, and that some sources (The Verge) would probably debunk the controversy surrounding the new policy. Both happened. However, by the time that happened, I had already made up my mind: I was deleting my profile. I had enough of Instagram, for more reasons than a shady & vague Terms of Service. Did I care that companies could use my photos for ads? A little. They were a collection of memories, that even though were made public, I did hold them near and dear to my heart. At the same time though, I knew I was posting these on somebody else servers, and publicly sharing them for the world to take. The possible ad usage of the photos (whether Instagram says it'll use them or not) were the least of my concerns. It was the vagueness, and possible abuse which could come down the road that had me concerned. Maybe I'm wrong about that, or maybe I'm right...or I could just be paranoid. Either way, it fueled the “Instashame” fire.

There was more though that made me want to get rid of Instagram, something much bigger. Spam was another massive contributor to my rampage. I know Instagram is addressing spam, and how it was going to help combat this in the new terms, but I really had enough of it. Comments, likes and follows were riddled with spam accounts. I felt like it was a game: “Spam the Gram”. Everyday I was blocking and reporting accounts. I know it's probably due to my excessive use of hashtags, but I saw so many other people hashtagging the sh*t out of their photos, and getting more and more REAL people liking, commenting and following. They were building an audience, and I was building a garbage heap.

I know it's not about the followers, but let's face it: Instagram is a popularity contest for a lot of people. I definitely got caught up in it. When I got thinking about the people who actually comment, “Like” and (probably) view my photos on a regular basis, it was really only about a dozen. Most of those people were on Twitter and Facebook. I decided that because of the combination of spam, new Terms of Service and lack of actual followers, that I should just remove myself from one of the MANY social media profiles I had.

The bottom line is, it just wasn't fun anymore. I wasn't getting the engagement I had on Twitter and Facebook. I wasn't too keen on the new Terms, even though I'm sure Instagram will change them or add examples and detail to ease the tension. I couldn't stand the spam. Oh, and I was posting the same damn things over and over: food, coffee, hiking, food, sunsets, palm trees...and it pretty much repeats from there. I still have all the photos (thanks to all of the exciting ones being backed up and on my phone now), so it's not like I lost much. The photos are still viewable on my Facebook, which I'm very aware has similar policies, but for some reason I feel like the power of the users on Facebook will keep those safe. Anyway, if you made it this far in the post, I'd like to hear why you stayed or left Instagram. I'm curious to hear what everyone else has to say about this whole situation.
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