The ups and downs of Instagram in 2012

"Instagram, its Affiliates, or Service Providers may transfer information that we collect about you, including personal information across borders and from your country or jurisdiction to other countries or jurisdictions around the world."

This past Tuesday Instagram released their new Terms and Conditions of Service agreement given their recent Facebook acquisition. These new terms and conditions created a storm of frustrations, anger, account deletion, and backlash across Twitter.

Yesterday, Instagram backtracked and announced that they would revert back to the previous terms of service – specifically about how photos could be used within advertisements.

There are however, other parts of the terms of service that will remain unchanged. While Instagram listened and responded to the biggest worries from their users, the damage may have already been done.

We looked at conversation and sentiment surrounding Instagram during 2012 to find out if it was too late.

A Story of Love and Hate

Throughout 2012, there were 30,391,899 relevant posts about Instagram with 761 billion possible impressions.

In our analysis, we found that for the most part the positive and negative conversation around Instagram has been very consistent. People love to love it, but they also love to rant about it.

We saw four overwhelming large spikes in negative conversation over the past year. While positive conversation stayed relatively constant on these days, negative conversation hit all time highs.

  • December 17th - Instagram’s updated terms and services agreement.

Tuesday’s conversation about Instagram was 71% negative and only 16% positive, reflecting a high amount of backlash that prompted Instagram to shortly thereafter announce their plans to adjust their terms of service. Users were not afraid to voice their frustrations and plans to jump the Instagram ship. They were most outraged over Instagram’s claim that they would be able to sell users’ photos without their permission. For example:

"Instagram is on the news if the new updates sells my pictures I'm deleting it"

"So Instagram's terms of use have changed, it now says they can sell your photos, no matter what they are, to anyone, without telling you."

  • April 3rd - Android version of Instagram released.

While Android users were thrilled, the iPhone community felt quite the opposite. iPhone users liked the exclusivity of the app and were angry that it is now being "polluted" by Android. 64% of conversation on this day was negative, mostly from the iPhone community. Users (specifically iPhone owners) mocked Android users and commented on their lack of polish and class. They are worried about what the social network would turn into once Android users joined in. For example:

"i cant believe #Instagram is for andriod now its gonna be alot of cheap pictures on my the site now smh"

"I hate that android users can have Instagram now . . smh"

  • April 9th - Instagram and Facebook acquisition announced

75% of conversation on this day was negative, the highest amount of negativity surrounding Instagram in 2012. People still love Instagram, but express their worry over the $1B deal and what Facebook is going to do with Instagram going forward. Users commented on how “uncool” Facebook has become over time and they express their worry over the same thing happening to Instagram. They also are worried about the privacy concerns they have with Facebook transferring over to Instagram. For example:

"Just closed my instagram account. I will now Kodak photo Share where they only sell my info to bankruptcy attorneys $$"

"There is so much I don't like about fb - and I'm really loving @instagram. I hope fb doesn't screw it up!"

  • June 30th – The Amazon Web Services outage took Instagram down with it.   

There were thousands of negative tweets related to this outage. 67% of conversation was negative on this day, yet positive conversation saw a large surge when Instagram was finally back up and running. Users expressed anger and frustration, while others mocked those that were upset. Tweets covered everything from extreme withdrawal to the amount in which people are too obsessed and attached to their Instagram apps. For example:

"The true value of a social network can be measured by the tweets and screams when it goes down. #Instagram, your time has come."

"Seriously... Instagram needs to hurry up and get fixed because I'm having  withdrawals right now"

What’s next for 2013?

While Instagram has recovered from the negative spikes throughout 2012, this most recent dialogue surrounding Terms and Conditions and its implications for photo privacy may cause irrevocable damage. Over half of all conversation about Instagram in 2012 was negative.

It is also important to note that not only are users in an uproar over the new terms of service, they are also annoyed by the Twitter and Instagram rivalry.

Instagram recently blocked Twitter from showing its photos in the Tweet stream in order to bring more traffic to Instagram's site and app. But, by creating a difficult experience, Instagram users are beginning to move to Twitter's new photo-editing tools which allows its users to do most of the same things that Instagram does.

There are however, those that are so fed up with both that they have been keeping an eye on other photo sharing services as alternatives, particularly Yahoo’s new Flickr update.

We’ll see what’s next!