What We Can Learn from the Instagram Buyout…

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Money1It’s not news to anyone that Facebook bought out Instagram for One Billion US Dollars.

For me this was a bit of a kick in the gut, as I had just recently left Facebook over concerns about how they use personal data (see last blog post on this site).

So what did I learn from seeing an app I love being scooped up by a site I would rather not be part of?

– Be wary of anything free.

Free software that is not ad-supported should be a gigantic warning sign whenever you see it. If an app has no revenue stream, then it has no purpose but to get itself acquired by some larger company that actually makes money. Hat-Tip to several folks I follow on twitter (@miketalonnyc) who have already posted quite a lot of info on this phenomenon.

– Never assume your data is going to stay put.

When FB integrates Instagram, you can be sure that all the photos you have taken on the indie app will end up on Facebook. Whenever you post something online, just take it for granted that it will eventually become public. No matter if because a site changes its policies, or gets bought by a company with different policies, any data that you don’t hold on your local machine will eventually be seen by everyone.

– Always know how to remove (and how to keep) your stuff.

Instagram has a page where you can delete your account – so you can indeed remove all the data they have from you. That doesn’t help much if you actually want to keep all your photos and move them elsewhere. Sites like InstaPort.me can give you a backup of your photos before you delete them, and even move them over to another site if you want. Note that this site is also a free app, but at least they take donations so they have *some* kind of revenue stream going.

– Know where to go next.

There are generally many apps that can do something you want to do. Finding the right one is tough, though, as many of those apps are bad ripoffs of the one you need to get rid of. Sites like AppAdvice can help sort through the crap to find the good tools.

As for my personal feelings on Instagram:

It was a great tool that did some nifty things with photos. That was about it. I loved using it, and would have liked to keep using it, but I very much dislike Facebook and don’t want the apps I’m using to be owned by them.

I’m very happy for the creators of the app who just hit a major payday, and I don’t fault them for taking the money when it was offered.

Finally, I did not “rage quit” Instagram. I took a day, thought it over and really asked myself if the app was good enough to keep using it in spite of who bought it out. The answer – in my case – was “no.” So I calmly found a site to help me get my data downloaded to my desktop, deleted my account, and then the app. No one should get so attached to an app that major changes like this cause them emotional turmoil.

So what did I switch to? Hipstamatic. It lets me take fun photos with filters and effects, and it’s not a free app, so it’s less likely they’ll get bought out and make me go through the process all over again in the near future.

Photo Credit: Amagill

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