Friday, November 9, 2012

Time to set your Instagram to private

Instagram is a huge hit and it didn't take long to get there. It was started in October 2010. Initially developed for the iPhone, Instagram released an Android app in April of this year, which is when I signed up. That same month, Facebook acquired Instagram, with its 13 employees, for $1 Billion. That's right, it took all of a year and a half for the founders to build a billion dollar company. 

That purchase by Facebook made Instagram fans cringe. Instagram was the coolest of cool Social Media, and Facebook had become, well, Facebook. It is a company with a poor reputation for managing privacy. For the user, it's a cat and mouse game of constantly checking and rechecking the latest privacy settings, which always seem to have "public" as the default. The privacy settings change repeatedly over time so it's hardly "set it and forget it".

Which brings me to my point. Instagram has been Facebooked. 

Instagram announced on its official blog on November 5th that it is rolling out user profiles, supposedly because users have been clamoring for them. All of a users pictures are showing up to anyone with the web address which is instagram.com/[username] Anyone will be able to see it unless it is set to private. Just as with Facebook, the default is open and you have to know about it and change your privacy settings to prevent it. 

Those people with the foresight to set up Instagram so that people need permission to follow need do nothing. I set mine up so that only my followers could see my pictures, but anyone could follow. I knew who could see them by looking at the relatively small number of people following me, all of whom I know personally. I've since set it to private. There is nothing objectionable, racy or strange among my Instagram pictures, I just find it creepy that Instagram posted them for anyone in the world to peruse.

Facebook has been my primary way of keeping up with far flung friends and relatives. I made the decision this week to curtail my use of it because I'm tired of the buggy, spam-riddled experience.  I should probably do the same with Instagram.