Instagram's retreat was quick, say Nicole Perlroth and Jenna Wortham at The New York Times, but not quick enough to keep from sending "unprecedented amounts of traffic and new users" to rival photo-sharing applications. Pheed, a 9-week-old Instagram-like app that lets users monetize their pics by charging followers to see their posts, soared to no. 9 on iTunes' list of most downloaded social networking apps this week. Flickr's mobile app also vaulted up the charts. Camera+ got in a dig, promising users it would "never do shady things with your shared pics because it just isn’t right."
"Paging General Custer: Debacles anyone?" says Charles Cooper at CNET. It is mind-boggling that none of the social-media geniuses at Facebook/Instagram could see that the mere suggestion of using people's photos in advertisements without their permission would leave privacy advocates "screaming bloody murder and outraged users bolting the service entirely." What were they thinking? Surely this attempted corporate suicide would have been prevented if somebody had run this by Mark Zuckerberg or Facebook's no. 2, Sheryl Sandberg.
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Instagram's nightmarish week "is a case study in tech PR blundering," says Josh Constine at TechCrunch. "It demonstrates the need for clear explanations of terms of services changes." (Systrom blamed the backlash on confusing grammar in the now-scrapped policy update.) Instagram was trying to lay the groundwork by changing its terms "to cover future monetization strategies" — but maybe Instagram should have simply waited until right before its new money-making schemes went live so users would know what the change was really about.
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