- Facebook buys Instagram, the mobile photo-sharing app, for $1 billion
- Digital pundits worry Instagram could lose its cool
- The photo-sharing app is popular with tech early adopters
- It lets users apply color filters to photos and share them on multiple networks
Facebook's purchase on Monday of the photo-sharing app Instagram had the Internet asking one question:
Will the Goliath of social networking make Instagram so uncool or so Facebook-y that it dies off entirely?
Immediately after the reported $1 billion purchase was announced, some digi-pundits were already rushing to say just that -- with plenty offering advice on how Instagram users can delete their accounts and all of the photos they've uploaded with the app.
Some cited Facebook-related privacy concerns.
That line of thinking goes like this: Instagram, a mobile network where people share filter-altered, hipster-y photos with friends, feels small and intimate. By contrast, Facebook feels too big and tries harder to profit off of the data its users submit to the site.
Here are a couple tweets to that effect:
@thisbrokenwheel: "Well, I guess I'll be spending the evening deleting ALL of my posted photos from @Instagram. Hate Facebook's creepy privacy issues."
@sinabhfuil: "Must delete Instagram from my phone; don't want any sneaking doorways into Facebook privacy grabs"
As CNNMoney writes, Instagram hadn't monetized its app: "Instagram is a free app and doesn't charge for any of its services. The company's founders insisted that would come in time, once they'd built a sizeable user base."
The tech blog TheNextWeb posted instructions for users to delete their entire Instagram accounts, just so Facebook can't get its hands on any data about their relationships on Instagram or on the photos they've submitted through the app.
"There is no guarantee that Facebook will be using the data gathered by Instagram but we wouldn't bet against it in a million years," that blog writes.
Others think the app will become far less cool under Facebook's care:
@TheCBurns: "What was once great is now crap."
"A lot of users will stop using Instagram," predicted CNN iReporter Aline Alencar of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who posted a photo protesting the Facebook takeover.
And there was quite a bit of non-analytical digital freakout happening:
"Nooooooooooooooo!" @_VickiV wrote.
Another Twitter user said the app won't die, but it will wane in popularity over time:
@jameshritz: "For me, I won't ever delete or quit, it will just be a process of gradual abandonment (probably take a few months) ..."
Still others are waiting for more details. In a posting on his Facebook page, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook will let Instagram operate as an "independent" entity -- albeit one that is owned by his social networking company.
Instagram's 30 million-plus users still will be able to post photos to various online social networks, he said. That feature is one hallmark of Instagram, and another reason it became so popular, particularly in tech early adopter circles. With a single click, users can share photos on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Posterous and Tumblr.
"We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience," Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. "We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.
"These and many other features are important parts of the Instagram experience and we understand that. We will try to learn from Instagram's experience to build similar features into our other products. At the same time, we will try to help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook's strong engineering team and infrastructure."
Color filters in the app also make anyone's mobile-phone photos look instantly more professional and vintage.
In comments on Zuckerberg's post, plenty of Facebook users appeared to be thrilled about the integration.
"This is damn interesting!! BIG NEWS!," one user wrote.
"Woah...so cool! Great news for Instagramers + Facebookers :)" another said.
Here's perhaps the most compelling comment on that post, as it hints at the increased popularity Instagram could see as it joins up with a network that is expected to hit 1 billion people this year:
"Now I don't have to explain what Instagram is to my Mom. I can just say 'It's Facebook!'" one Facebook user wrote.