By Scott Kleinberg, Tribune Newspapers
December 20, 2012
It's been a rough week for Instagram. First, on Monday, the company updated its terms of service and almost immediately faced an angry backlash from users. Language that seemed to indicate plans to sell our photos and use them in ads didn't sit well.
Then on Tuesday, co-founder Kevin Systrom wrote a blog post thanking everyone for the valuable feedback and promised to make the language in the new terms much clearer. He acknowledged that Instagram could have been and should have been clearer in its explanation.
Systrom wrote that Instagram doesn't plan to sell user photos. And even though he didn't say your photos will never be sold, he said his company is working on updated language. He also explained that language indicating your photos could be used in advertisements will be removed from the terms entirely.
Reaction to the blog post on social media was mixed. While some were happy to see some sort of response, others were looking for something more concrete. Instagram did make it clear that logging into its service makes you bound by the terms and the only way to opt out is to delete your account entirely.
And that led to lots of talk of Instagram alternatives. Some sites can only offer a similar experience, but you do have choices. Here are just a few.
Flickr: Everyone knows Flickr by Yahoo. It's still popular, and Flickr's newly overhauled and beautiful mobile app is worth a look. Instagram drama aside, I recommend having a presence on Flickr. Bonus: If you name your photos something useful — not 0001.jpg — the SEO benefits are amazing.
Snapseed: Recently purchased by Google, Snapseed is my iPhone app of choice to crop and add effects — not the same as filters — to photos. It's easy to use, fast and reliable. And don't worry Android users, there's a version for you too.
Twitter: Yes, Twitter. The recent update adding photo filters makes it a viable alternative to Instagram.
500px: This beautiful photo-sharing site is a favorite, and while it's mobile-friendly, you can't upload photos from the mobile app. 500px is for your best work, and chances are that's not on your phone. But once you upload from your desktop or laptop, the browsing experience on a mobile device is top notch.
That's just a taste. There are many others, including Camera+ and Hipstamatic. Oh, and Camera Awesome is pretty awesome. If you are firm on leaving Instagram, I suggest you try these and search on your own. For better or worse, there's no shortage of photography apps. It's just a matter of what works best for you and your workflow.
As for me, I won't be leaving Instagram. While certain parts of the new terms concern me greatly, I have come to accept that social media is all about sharing. But that said, let me know if you find an alternative that wows you. I'm always looking to try new things.
What questions do you have about social media? Tweet them to @scottkleinberg or @amyguth. We might select yours for use in a future column.ss
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