As described in yesterday’s post, the free photo-sharing service Instagram made a lot of people fizzing mad when they published new terms of service. They made a statement that didn’t calm things. Late on 12/20/12 Kevin Systrom announced that Instagram would go back to the previous terms of service. (Almost.) This new announcement is shorter, and contains the word “sorry.” Progress. Kind of.
The blog post says, “…it became clear that we failed to fulfill what I consider one of our most important responsibilities – to communicate our intentions clearly. I am sorry for that, and I am focused on making it right.”
But then he goes back to how the users failed to understand. “There was confusion and real concern about what our possible advertising products could look like and how they would work.” Because you didn’t communicate clearly? Or because users didn’t like some of those possible advertising products? (See xkcd for a nice take on user expectations.)
“…rather than obtain permission from you to introduce possible advertising products we have not yet developed, we are going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work.” Good idea.
Also, Reuters says, “Instagram kept language which gave it the ability to place ads in conjunction with user content, and ‘…we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.’” So… they didn’t go all the way back to the previous terms of service, but only because users are so confused.
“Whatever,” says Son of Sorrywatch. Which is like the views of others who pointed out that Instagram has to make money somehow. I agree. They have to make money to keep going. (Sadly, if you do what you love, the money cannot be relied on to follow you home wagging its tail.) This will surely involve advertising. But it doesn’t have to involve sneakily-worded communications and contracts, or overly greedy permissions grabs. Or feeble blame-the-user apologies.
Finally, “I’m… proud that you feel empowered to be vocal and approach us with constructive feedback to help us build a better product.” How cool, they empowered the users. They must be busting their buttons with pride! It’s an nicely condescending way to spin “Burn in hell, profiteer!”
Sneaky wording and blame shifting? I’m calling it an apology, but a bad one.