December 19, 2012

This picture is so, so artsy. (Marlon Correa)

Yesterday, Instagram angered the Internet.

Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom had to crawl groveling before us in sackcloth, heaping ashes on his head and insisting that his company did not MEAN to bother us with those new lines in the Terms of Service policy. 

It was too late. We were in an uproar. Like a toddler at the doctor’s office, we barricaded ourselves under the examination table and refused to come out until Serious Changes Were Made.

First, the Instagram folks tried reassuring us with blanket statements. “Nothing is different,” they insisted. “We have changed nothing.” But we were unmoved.

“Fine,” they yelled. “Fine! We’ll fix that one section that seems to be making you so upset! But — come on, you’re being a little unreasonable here.” 

I hate to see a grown man cry, even if what he’s crying is “You misinterpreted the implications of the new Terms of Service!” 

But he does have a point. 

As he helpfully points out, Instagram is a business. It has always been a business. In fact, most of these Internet Things we have come to rely upon are not in it because they really, altruistically enjoy helping us share our photographs and such, much as we might like that. And, as such, Instagram does have to look for ways to make money. For instance, sharing what businesses we like, as Facebook already does. 

Still, they’ll fix that language, if it bothers us so much. “See,” Instagram adds. “It’s all better now. Please, put down the Delete Account button. Come back.”

“Are you kidding?” we say. “We never left.” 

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.