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Controversy: Facebook/Instagram, Your Slip is Showing!

July 17th, 2013 No Comments
Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

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We post a near-weekly article on a controversy in the Photography Industry on our sister blog on our professional site.  Let’s change ends and bring one controversy to our consumer-side readers.

Controversy, it seems begets controversy.  Though this one is flying under the radar, the issue is not any the less controversial.  About six months back we had blogged about the ‘Instagram Controversy.’  That situation had given rise to a class action lawsuit.  Today, Facebook, owner of Instagram, is both relieved (and perhaps a little cock-a-hoop) that the lawsuit “was dismissed by a judge last Friday on procedural grounds.”  This judgment is available on Gigaom and PhoneArena.

Note the key term ‘procedural grounds.’  That means that the underlying alleged facts of the case did not come into play.  The class action was always going to be an uphill struggle; after all, Instagram/Facebook did not sell harmful products nor did they even mislabel a product or service.  They pulled a ‘switcheroo’ on users who were using a free service.  Users who were unhappy with the switcheroo were free to terminate their accounts and take their (unpaid) business elsewhere.

That’s just the ‘common sense’ view.  With the alleged facts never being looked into (because the class action was procedurally deficient), one cannot tell whether or not the lawsuit, which pertained to ownership of rights of a web-service user’s photographs, had any merit or not.

All that said, perhaps we can draw an inference from a very revealing question cum plea out there on Facebook itself; in the write-up by David Cohen on its own site: “Readers[,] Is there any point to this case, since Instagram already reverted to its prior terms of service?”

“. . . reverted to its prior . . .”  But why?  Aha!  So Facebook/Instagram pulled a switcheroo on the switcheroo – a double U-Turn – because and after ‘they got caught’!

So what would have happened had there been no outcry, no uproar, no controversy?  Facebook isn’t telling but it’s reasonable to infer that that there would have been no second change of direction . . . .  Silently, quietly, Instagram may well have been enjoying some or another fruits from their unwitting users’ photographs!  

Now ain’t that controversial?


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