Although Instagram is not for everyone, some are still forced by their spouses to use the social media image-sharing app. Most can appreciate what this child company of Facebook is doing; innovating, trying to get people connected in times of introversion, and when being a hermit has really taken precedence over outdoor activity.
Today Kevin Systrom, CEO of Instagram introduced a free add-on to the existing service most already know and love so much. Systrom has released Instagram Direct, titled it appropriately — instead of taking pictures of cats named Annie and sharing it to the 3 billion people on the internet. Instead one can now just send it to 15 of their closest friends/family — or a group deemed acceptable. Good news for Annie right? Well, the thing is that most have been doing this for at least a year with iMessage. They take a picture on their phone, then select a group that is deemed acceptable and send them the image. So what really makes this different? Well in iMessage a user can’t like or comment (comment besides sending a message back anyways).
So with this add-on, which is available right now on the two major platforms, iOS and Android, a user just has to locate the “Direct” button, take a picture or video then select 1-15 recipients to send the media to. Once received the recipients can “Like” or comment. Easy peasy right?
Well there are some cons. The initial problem, which one could totally be wrong with, is if a person takes a picture and deem said picture of Annie appropriate for (for the purpose of this article will be called the chosen group ~Be$ties~) the group ~Be$ties~ what happens if no one likes or comments? Or perhaps one or two don’t comment or like, will they be removed from ~Be$ties~? Will they now harbour a grudge against the sender secretly? Perhaps it wasn’t their fault, they were at work all day. Well some won’t care, they were embarrassed by them, they trusted them with the enjoyment of the cat wearing Yoda ears.
Of course there are pros also. Some may see that this as a huge advantage for Instagram! How? Well welcome to the 2014 inside-joke club “hey Sally, what did you think of the pumpkin picture on ~Be$ties~ last night [laughs & giggles].” Or perhaps a new game can come out of it. Hide and seek, or hidden treasures with clues between the sender and 15 friends trying to find them, or the treasure. As many pros, there are cons, it’s how one chooses to accept any technology. Sure there was drama before Facebook, it’s essentially just moved from a synchronous state to an asynchronous state.
However, it has one thinking that with any service there must be a hidden undertone in it’s existence. Why are they doing it? It is known how Facebook makes money with targeted ads. So how will Instagram Direct make money — will it study what is being liked the most by people after being received and use that data and target ads towards people? Nothing is free, and that should concern everyone. There is always a reason, and maybe people won’t know what it is today, but everyone should keep their eyes open for a hidden agenda. Facebook and Instagram has been known to have something up their sleeve en masse.
Opinion by Sebastian Barkovic