Instagram lost 4 million of its 16.4 million daily active users over the Christmas holiday, according to the usage trend monitors at AppData — but let’s not jump to conclusions.The New York Post connects the (incomplete) data to last week’s revolt against Instagram’s new terms of service, but looking at AppData’s graph below, the dip doesn’t quite match up with the rage. (Update 12:21 p.m.: Facebook has denied the trend, because of course it would. “This data is inaccurate. We continue to see strong and steady growth in both registered and active users of Instagram,” the company said in a statement to The Verge. Read on for why we think that might just be true.)
Instagram got everyone all freaked out around December 17, a day when AppData, whose “numbers reflect trends in usage” rather than exact user counts, actually shows an increase. Could the drop in users have to do with the holidays? Everyone posted turkeys on Thanksgiving and presents on Christmas, plus the controversy sustained itself long enough that test family dinner-table conversations about Instagram — or, you know, some time away from your phone and some more time spent with said family — might be enough to amount to this kind of drop-off:
Earlier this week, users of the social photo network Instagram were up in arms and then soothed, all in the span of days. The mobile-application company, which allows participants to share photos and recently launched an online interface, informed users that their photos may be used for advertising, but quickly changed their tune. However, despite backpedaling on their proposed service-terms changes, many users aren’t convinced that something similar won’t arise later, reports the New York Times, especially since Facebook purchased Instagram earlier this year.
Companies like Google, Twitter, Yelp and Facebook offer themselves as free services for users to store and share their most intimate pictures, secrets, messages and memories. But to flourish over the long term, they need to seek new ways to market the personal data they accumulate. They must constantly push the envelope, hoping users either do not notice or do not care.
So they sell ads against the content of an e-mail, as Google does, or transform a user’s likes into commercial endorsements, as Facebook does, or sell photographs of your adorable 3-year-old, which is what Instagram was accused of planning this week.
“The reality is that companies have always had to make money,” said Miriam H. Wugmeister, chair of Morrison Foerster’s privacy and data security group.
Even as Instagram was pulling back on its changed terms of service on Thursday night, it made clear it was only regrouping. After all, Facebook, as a publicly held corporation, must answer to Wall Street’s quarterly expectations.
Read more at the New York Times.
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