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How Facebook will Cash In on Your Instagram Photos (& solve the Mystery of Clouds)

Posted 22 December, 2012


Instagram made headlines this week with their user policy changes.

In the new policy, Instagram -- owned by Facebook -- can sell their users' photos for cold, hard cash.

The move surprised experts, who had long believed Instagram photos weren't actually worth anything.

"I never saw this coming," said Steven Davies, professor of social mediology at the University of California.

"Instagram has always been about quality user experience and trust, a place where amateur breakfast photographers could escape society's judgments.

We never imagined someone would actually pay money for this crap."

User betrayal

Most Instagram users are worried. For many, their photos represent years of hard work and study -- which they'd have now if they hadn't spent time using Instagram.

"I feel like I wasted my life for nothing," remarked one user, who takes photos of produce and prefers blur filters. "I mean, was I using Instagram this whole time just to fill the pockets of a giant corporate entity?"


Whoa, sweet filter, bro. You must get paid.


The feelings of betrayal run deep.

"I've been taking Instagram photos for years," claimed another. "People think it's all just pointing and clicking and pointing and clicking. But no, you have to choose a filter, too."

"And I have an eye for filters," he added.

Who's buying?

If Instagram photos were to go on the market, there would be a near-endless list of clients looking to buy, and many analysts are now saying Facebook's move was a wise one.

"Instagram was sitting on a gold mine for years and didn't even know it," said Niles Thornby, representative of the Royal Society for the Understanding of Clouds.

"To date, Instagram users have uploaded hundreds of thousands of cloud photos, making it the single largest cache of cloud photographs in the world. It's literally the Holy Grail in our fight to unravel the mysteries of the cloud."

"Why do some clouds look like turtles?" Niles asked. "We may finally know the answer to that question."


Volume 4/5. Fluffiness 5/5. Would photograph.


But another huge beneficiary of the Instagram move will be stock photo suppliers.

"This changes everything," said Max Wallick, director of management at iStock Photo. "We used to have to hire professional photographers and models to provide high-quality photographs to clients. But now we just buy the photos from behind users' backs. To think: these professional photos can be done with a couple college students, a cell-phone camera and a filter. Wow!

I mean, you can hardly tell the difference."

Lasting Impact

The question going forward is how much this will impact Instagram's relationship with its users. Because to them, it's not just a picture of a taco with a monochrome filter.

It's art.

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