It started with Kevin Systrom’s uncertainty about Facebook’s plan to do something about Instagram, after the social networking giant acquired the famous photo sharing service for $735 million.


Two weeks ago, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom announced the official confirmation of Instagram’s move to disable image card support on Twitter. Initially, what seemed like a meager attempt to reroute users to its official website, turned out to be a preliminary step before taking off its complete photo integration from Twitter.

Then  the news surfaced about Instagram’s update of its privacy policy, where the photo sharing service made a significant change to its user policy, according to which Instagram now has the right to share user content with Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and third parties.  Instagram explained the user content as “username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”

Naturally, the very thought that struck the minds of its 100 million+ users was that granting Instagram a “non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use that Content” is similar to handing  over a free ticket to sell their photos and every content related to it, not just to Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) but to any third party the photo sharing service deems necessary.

Many users have reportedly been looking for alternatives to this photo sharing service. It may be an evidence to this that, Instaport, a tool which  enables one to download all the images from an Instagram account, reported overloaded servers on Tuesday morning. Users who felt threatened by this change in policy are reported to have their photos downloaded, before closing their accounts.

The daylong backlash and a public uproar  had only begun when Systrom came out with another statement, they disclaimed the idea of selling photos to third parties  and promised to remove the controversial sentence, with a surety that the language will be clarified to convey a clear message.

“Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing.”

Just when Instagram was already grappling with the situation at hand. Another news came out revealing that Systrom’s testimony at a hearing of the California Corporations Department last August, the CEO was repeatedly asked about the possibility of receiving other acquisition offers apart from the one of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB). Systrom denied the questions, he said, “No, we never received any offers,” Instagram had “talked to other parties, but never received any formal offers from anybody else.”

It turned out that weeks before Facebook announced its acquisition of Instagram, the company’s CEO had already been in talks with Twitter about the chances of being bought out.  A report by The New York Times reveals that Twitter was asked for $525 million in cash to take over Instagram  when Facebook snapped at the deal by offering $735 million to acquire the possession of the photo sharing service.  The assumptions that Systrom lied about the talks with Twitter leaves a serious question on the  credibility of the photo sharing service, backed up by the rise in user’s concerns of  their content being sold  by the company.

Taking this chain of events into consideration,  it won’t be entirely wrong to assume that Systrom and Instagram now have a difficult task in winning back the trust they’ve just lost in their users.

If a company profits over the cost of jeopardizing its user’s privacy, its something that never escapes the attention of today’s media. Netflix and Group are the living examples of falling into the trap of bad press. If Instagram has  been listening to its users, and if they  have been paying attention to the furor around, it doesn’t seem a good idea to  test the loyalty of its users anymore.