Instagram’s Embedding Announcement is Preventative PR

Instagram photos are now embeddable. This means that instead of saving a photo or taking a screenshot, users can place photos inside an article and users can interact with it. For example, I’d like to introduce you to Edgar Allen Poe:

I know, I know, my cat is adorable. This new ability to embed pictures and videos will give your photos a longer shelf life than before. People who don’t follow you on Instagram will be exposed to your artistic vision and you will accrue more likes over time. Both bloggers and amateur photographers walk away winners.

While the ability to embed photos in the same way that you embed tweets is cool, but the really interesting content was in the blog article that Instagram posted about it. The Instagram staff wanted to assure users who have private accounts that they won’t find their photos all over the Internet. Private accounts have no embed option, so nothing is changing for them. They mention that in the article, but also add this:

As always, you own your photos and videos, and we want to make sure that’s understood no matter where your content appears. Whether you want to embed your video on your blog or a friend wants to feature your photo on a website, everyone will clearly see that your content belongs to you.

This is a little preventative PR after their crisis last year. The hashtag #boycottInstagram blew up in December when the app changed their terms of service claiming the right to sell user images to advertisers. Users would neither be compensated nor told what their images are used for.

Several major Instagram brands and celebrities – including National Geographic – suspended posts on the app or closed their accounts entirely. After considerable uproar, Instagram backpedaled and let users know that they wouldn’t sell their photos to third party advertisers. They have been trying to build back the trust ever since.

This controversy wasn’t helped by the fact that Instagram is owned by Facebook, the social network notorious for invading the privacy of users. Facebook is known for creating vague privacy settings with confusing options that leave users feeling hopeless and frustrated.

Instagram had to tread lightly with this announcement to let users know that they’re not trying to pull anything shady. Even the wording only refers to you or your friend sharing photos and videos, not complete strangers who stumble upon your pictures and think they would be perfect blog images.

It appears that Instagram learned its lesson from the controversy six months ago. People don’t think of their photos in the same way they think of Facebook statuses, they think of them as art. Bloggers should take heed and either embed Instagram photos or give credit to them in the same way they credit other internet pictures. When in doubt, give the photographer a shout out.

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Amanda Dodge