Instagram Shoots Self in the Other Foot

Jan 29, 2013 • Culture, teh inetrwebz, web

Intagram demands users provide ID

Instagram has been “securing” (i.e., suspending) accounts, giving users a deadline to upload a form of valid identification. Many initially suspected this was a phishing scam, but a Facebook spokesperson told CNET, “Instagram occasionally removes accounts due to violation of terms and, depending on the violation, may ask people to upload IDs for verification purposes.”

Their terms, recently revised, state users must be over thirteen to use the service, but it is unclear whether the recent “securing” spree is targeting only users who appear to be under 13. The only thing that is certain is that Facebook is providing users no further assistance in this matter.

This is another failure on Facebook’s part to handle issues within the photo-sharing site in a way that helps users feel secure. The previous one happened late last year when Instagram changed its terms to allow the service to employ user photos and likenesses in advertising without compensation to creators.

Less than a month later, Instagram changed the terms back after heavy backlash from users, but the damage was done: according to AppStats, the number of daily active users between December and January fell from 16.35 million to 7.41 million. Daily active users continue to decline. It doesn’t make sense to users to invest in a community that may be taken away from them at any moment.

We took a closer look at their terms and found that Instagram clearly states that users must not post nude, “partially nude,” or “sexually suggestive” photos or other “content.” What does this mean? No idea. But we know that Facebook historically hasn’t hesitated to pull down content it considers “risque” — including images of known works of art.

We have grown tired of playing this game with Facebook, and social networks in general. Nudity needs a place to live among consenting adults, a place that won’t expose them to the cruelty of a sex-negative culture by demanding they use their real names. Google+ hasn’t stepped up to meet the need — or done anything to clarify their policies on adult content.

We need somewhere to go. But where?