God, it’s annoying about Instagram. You pay them that monthly fee and then take all those brilliant photos of pieces of cheese and share them with your friends, and then, suddenly, you get hit with it: they’re going to sell your pictures on to advertisers without giving you a penny or asking your permission. The cheek of it is astounding. The worst of it is: you can't escape. Once you’re an Instagram user, there is simply no way to protect yourself from this cynical, greedy move by Facebook, a company that used only to be interested in making the world better through social networking.
There are three deliberate mistakes in the preceding paragraph. Here they are in case you missed them. Facebook has long been interested in making money out of you, which you can tell from the fact that Mark Zuckerberg is a billionaire. Since Instagram is not a branch of the government, you can easily skirt its rules by the straightforward expedient of closing your account and removing your pictures. And there is no monthly fee. Instragam, like a bunch of other online services that everyone complains about as if they’re under some moral obligation to give you really clever stuff just because you have nice manners, is absolutely free of charge.
In the circumstances, the idea that there is anything for the typical user to complain about here is absurd. I could sort of understand it if your nearest and dearest were going to start appearing in newspapers without their permission as a result, but that obviously isn’t going to happen: to use their faces, the advertisers would have to get their agreement.
You wouldn’t have understood that from much of the online reaction yesterday, though. The general view on Twitter (another free service, incidentally, and one which has garnered plenty of complaints of its own when it has shown the temerity to accept – hold on to your pearls, Maude! – advertising) seemed to be based on the shared understanding that we have a fundamental human right to awesome retro filters. There is, in fact, no such right, or at least no such right that entails the free provision of a convenient online service with which to apply them.
It’s so weird, this internet tendency: no one walks into a shop and gets crotchety when they learn that they have to pay for the goods, or moans about their football team wearing a sponsored shirt. Cool things that we like cost, and if they don’t cost us money, they cost us in other ways. You don’t like it? Fine. Stop whining, delete the app, and pick up your old SLR. Then take the negatives to Boots. Hey, maybe they’ll develop them for you for free!