Posted by: cprofita | November 13, 2017

Instagram Revolt Reveals The Power Of Consumer Protest


In “The Political Economy of Facebook,” Christian Fuchs argues social media sites should be held to a socialist concept of privacy in which users are protected from economic surveillance and exploitation by the sites’ owners.

Fuchs makes the case that people are working for free when they use social media sites because companies like Facebook are collecting and quietly selling their data to advertisers.

One of the solutions he suggests is consumer protests and organized watchdog movements.

“Critical citizens…should observe closely the surveillance operations of corporations and document these mechanisms and instances in which corporations and politicians take measures that threaten privacy or increase the surveillance of citizens,” Fuchs writes.

A 2012 revolt against Instagram reveals the potential of such movements.

After Facebook bought Instagram, the photo-sharing site changed its privacy policy and terms of service. One line in its new policy suggested it could sell users’ photos to advertisers.

A massive backlash ensued, and many Instagram users deleted their accounts in protest.

In an interview with NPR, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom admitted he hadn’t read the new policies all that carefully, and “one of the sections…can be interpreted that we were going to take user photos and somehow use them in advertising.”

“We have a graph of account deletions at the time, and it was skyrocketing,” he said. “And we were like ‘What do we do?’”

Proving the power of protest, Systrom wrote an apology and removed the offending language from the new policy.

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