It would have been hard to miss the deal read about around the Internet yesterday: Facebook's buying Instagram for $1 billion dollars. The comments around the deal have largely centered around the valuation amount, arguably inflated, and the pending doom of the often talked about "bubble" in Silicon Valley. Yet, there is another undercurrent that is likely far more important to the two parties in the deal: the prospective recalcitrance of Instagram users to continue their use of the photo social network now that it is linked to Facebook.
The user conversation around the deal demonstrated several concerns, some relating to the fact that the platform would now suddenly become less "cool," and others relating to the simple fact that they liked Instagram because it was just photos, not anything else. Likely the biggest criticism was that many Instagram users signed up for Instagram because they just wanted to use Instagram.
While some users like to integrate all of their social tools together, others like to keep their web experience siloed. Many Instagram users loved the application for its simplicity; in the words of one user, "It made everyone feel like a professional photographer." When talking to people casually about it at a concert I attended last night (certainly not hard research), many people said they were likely going to stop using it. One new user, who had just downloaded the Instagram application, said now he was not going to use it since it was owned by Facebook. Even if people are not ardent privacy advocates or display everyday concerns over such issues, they know Facebook does not play well in the sandbox with its users.
Some people don't want to share everything they do on every single platform. The reason why Instagram was so popular was its simplicity and that it allowed users to make choices where their photos would go. While we have yet to see operationally how this deal with play out, we may see more quickly in the court of public opinion what happens. For now, if users are unhappy with this recent move, maybe it's time to try Hipstamatic?