If you’ve read Twitter in the past 2 hours, you know what I’m talking about. And you also probably know that people are kind of freaking out. Some of my favorite reactions to this shocking (not-so-shocking?) announcement have been tweets saying things like “RIP Instagram,” “Instagram Alternatives,” and “How to Delete Your Instagram Account and Still Save all your Photos.”
Seeing these reactions makes most of us ask, What does this even mean for Instagram?
Frankly, I’m just a marketing student who loves social media, so I probably couldn’t tell you. But, I can share some interesting information and perhaps help form some opinions.
In the note from Facebook referenced in the TechCrunch article, Mark Zuckerberg clarifies that Instagram will remain an independent app (think Google/YouTube):
Historically, Facebook has fully integrated every app that they have acquired into its platform. Take Spotify for example. You need a Facebook account in order to log into Spotify, and all of your playlists, suggested tracks, etc. are based upon the activity of your Facebook friends. Next, look at Words with Friends. You can’t connect with people on apps like this unless you are a.) connected with them on Facebook, or b.) know their username. One of the coolest things about Instagram is that you are able to connect with tons of different people within and beyond your network.
That said, Facebook is claiming that this won’t happen this time. Perhaps it is a possibility that, since this is the largest acquisition Facebook has yet to make, this will last. Looking back at the Google/YouTube case, we can see that this is fully possible. If someone didn’t know, they would barely be able to tell that YouTube was owned by Google. So, I wouldn’t advise deleting your Instagram account just yet.
I think that the most alarming part of Facebook’s statement is the line that reads: “This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users.” Facebook has been notorious for taking as much information from people as they can, and now, they have full access to a whole new database of people. By agreeing to this acquisition, Instagram also agreed to share its entire user base with Facebook who will probably use that information to further take over the world (forgive my overstatement, but there really isn’t a better way to express that one).
The last thing that I would worry about is the direction in which Instagram is now able to grow. Yes, they will have gone from a small company of just over ten employees to having the resources of Facebook, but the fact that they are now a part of Facebook will limit possible partnerships and improvement options. Independent apps are able to integrate and collaborate with each other via developer API’s, and Instagram had a lot of room to grow in this area (sharing options, photo streams, related apps). Technically, Facebook got just what they wanted in that they saw the potential, figured that they wouldn’t have been able to stop or beat it, bought it, and now have control over where it goes.
[Something else worth noting is that Facebook was supposedly trying to create a photo sharing app like Instagram, but finally decided that it wouldn’t be able to beat this growing app. The fact that they tried to create this for their own platform and then bought its biggest competitor (because they can), makes me question the plausibility of Instagram remaining as independent as claimed.]
All of that said, this literally happened hours ago, so the only thing we can really do is wait and see what happens. I love the tech world.