Facebook purchases Instagram; users concerned about changes

By Beth Byrd, Staff Writer

Facebook’s announcement of plans to buy Instagram may be a strategic business decision, but Instagram users are concerned about possible changes resulting from the acquisition.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO, posted Monday on his Facebook page that the social networking website wants to combine its services with Instagram’s photo-sharing technology to offer a better multimedia experience. Some people, however, believe Facebook wants Instagram for reasons other than attempts to enhance the features of mobile images.

“Expectations are already so high, (and) Facebook is looking to continue to add value to their brand,” said Ashley Blair, assistant professor of communication arts. “Instagram is a way to do this through its 30 million users, hipster coolness and superior mobile photo-sharing capabilities.”

Dr. Keith Absher, professor of marketing and dean of the McAfee School of Business Administration, said any product left unmodified will eventually decline. By keeping the social media experience fresh, Facebook avoids becoming obsolete such as MySpace has, Absher said.

Facebook may have battled competitors for Instagram, said Dr. Thomas Proctor, professor of accounting, coordinator of accounting and director of accreditation. He said Facebook probably wanted to purchase Instagram before another company did and would not have paid the $1 billion price tag unless the photo-sharing company was worth that amount.

“It is remarkable that a company that currently has no revenue and 13 employees could sell for $1 billion,” Blair said. “But Instagram is a well-made application that allows easy sharing with external social networks and among internal users.”

Already attracting a large number of followers, Instagram gained 12 million additional users when it launched its Android application a few weeks ago, Blair said.

Many of Instagram’s followers worry about the acquisition because of the changes Facebook could make to Instagram.

Blair, who regularly uses Instagram to upload pictures to Facebook and Twitter, said she is concerned Facebook will add advertisements to Instagram and that the site could use data from Instagram’s users. Blair also said Instagram has a good privacy policy, while Facebook’s policy is much more controversial.

Instagram pictures uploaded before the Facebook buyout will remain under Instagram’s original privacy policy, Blair said. However, once Facebook implements the new features, users will have to comply with its policies if the Instagram pictures are uploaded to users’ Facebook accounts.

Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram also could harm Twitter, the second largest social media network worldwide. Previously, Instagram users tweeted more pictures than they shared on Facebook. With Facebook buying Instagram, Blair said Twitter may no longer be Facebook’s biggest competition.

“The overarching disappointment I have with the Facebook acquisition of Instagram is the same as I have with any industry where buyouts result in a few powerful companies and minimal competition,” Blair said. “(There is) less creativity and more emphasis on the bottom line.”

Regardless of the speculation and concerns, Proctor said no one knows exactly what the acquisition will mean for the future of either Facebook or Instagram. Absher, however, is confident the outcome will be positive.

“(Facebook) is in the business of making friends,” Absher said. “I believe they’ll make it a good thing for users.”

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.