In 2006, a popular social network site for college students caused uproar within its membership when it introduced two new features, dubbed News Feed and Mini-Feed. The site was in danger of losing its cool, hipster credentials and a petition quickly grew to 330,000 signers, demanding that the site do away with the feature.
And so the offending site dwindled down to nothing and with its tail between its legs went away never to be seen again.
Yeah, right! 800 million users and six years later the site, known as Facebook, just plunked down a billion dollars for a photo sharing service called Instagram. And the social media universe erupted again with indignant calls for justice and ironic t-shirts sported “Ban the Gram” messages as their wearers sulked over their iPads.
The Twitterverse was aghast:
“Instagram just officially died today,” wrote @AmirKassaei.
“I liked instagram before they sold out,” wrote @EAJosh.
“Must delete Instagram from my phone; don’t want any sneaking doorways into Facebook privacy grabs,” from @sinabhfuil
Instagram has yet to turn any sort of profit and has 13 employees of which 13 have yet to stop high fiving anyone who wanders by. There’s little there except rampant popularity among iPhone users to indicate a cash cow worthy of such a huge investment. Facebook reps seemed surprised at the reaction. Maybe they still thought they were the cool, hip social site. More likely they were surprised that there are still people out there who think the Internet is funded by pixies and chai.
Changes in the features or settings have been made repeatedly in the past, arousing much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Timeline, anyone? The outcry was mostly ignored and the masses went back to posting their kid photos and random cries for social justice. So this too shall pass and the original users of Instagram will no doubt find another outlet to express their mass individuality. Facebook is betting that a new wave of users will come forth who either didn’t know about Instagram or didn’t have an iPhone (Android users just recently got the app) and will dive right in to post endless photos of their own lives. And kids. Lots and lots of kids.
You can bet that’ll be around the time that Facebook debuts a desktop version and then starts putting ads on the site. The new joiners probably won’t be surprised or offended when the ads begin to appear, they expect it, and they probably won’t give a damn about it. It’s just photo sharing, people. It’s not like Dylan went electric.
Um, this just in as I’m uploading the photo above (not from Instagram but from Pixlr.com) Techcrunch reports that since the launch of its Android app, Instagram’s user base grew from 30 to 40 million. That’s over 1,000,000 new users a day.