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There has been suspicion surrounding everyone’s favourite photo sharing app, Instagram, since Facebook purchased the company in April.

Some have suggested that Twitter’s own picture filters are now just as good or better and others have jumped ship due to worries surounding Facebook’s ever changing privacy policies.

Despite this, Instagram still reports 100m users. 

This week, when it emerged that Instagram could have the right to sell users' photographs without payment or notification, social networks went into meltdown with a public outcry. Later, instagram chief Kevin Systrom rushed to clarify the situation citing their 'confusing language' as responsible for the misunderstanding. 

With such high volumes of surrounding almost any topic in social media, it is useful to track the timeline of news stories by splitting them out into topics on a timeline.

Fig 1. Topics timeline for Instagram Dec 14th - 21st

Topics timeline - instagram Dec 14-21st

Source: Brandwatch

Instagram has a fairly consistent number of mentions and fairly predictable topics from day to day, but when users discovered the policy change, there was clearly a big spike in mentions.

The most notable spike, however, is due to one of Instagram's most influential users National Geographic suspended their account posting an image explaining:

Suspending new posts to Instagram. We are very concerned with the direction of the proposed new terms of service.

Because Instagram is now widely used by creators whose livelihood is in the copyright of their content, this has proved a big deal and created a much wider debate than usual.

Here are the ten most influential tweeters according to Kred and Brandwatch who waded into the debate this time. Ironically, instagram itself comes top of this list. 

  • @instagram
  • @nytimes
  • @NBA
  • @ArianaGrande
  • @tonyhawk
  • @mashable
  • @jamieoliver
  • @simonpegg
  • @TechCrunch
  • @GBarlowOfficial

As Econsultancy's Matt Owen wrote last week in a post on Instagram's new terms

By and large people don’t mind that adverts exist, they just don’t want to be swindled into something without their explicit consent. 


Published 24 December, 2012 by Hannah Emanuel

Hannah Emanuel is PR Manager at Brandwatch and a contributor to Econsultancy.

3 more posts from this author

Comments (3)


Alison Gilbert

I am of the opinion that what Instagram has done is an outrage. Their initial comment appears to be a 'testing of the waters' to see what they could get away with. There was not only a huge outcry against their new policy but also closing of facebook accounts (since facebook owns Instagram). Instagram realized they needed to clarify their position.

Clairfy my _ _ _. They will do what they can get away with. I think traditional media had more respect for copyright law and the fact that photographers earn their living from their photos. In addition, families do not want their personal photos sold and distributed without their consent.

I believe that social media is not meant to be synonymous with unethical, even illegal behavior compare to the standards of traditional media. It would indeed be a shame and a disgrace if it were to become such.

In that case, the government will just have to step in and make laws to dictate behavior on social media. We all know what results from that. Just remember when every PC came with Microsoft software. No more thanks to anti-trust lawsuit (not sure that is correct term).

Any way, I think everyone gets the gist of this comment. Greed still seems to be the word of the day. Happy Holydays.

almost 4 years ago

Graeme Benge

Graeme Benge, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai

How much influence do facebook have over instagram? Could this be a trojan horse, thin end of the wedge type of thing.? Not sure insragram had made itself viral to enough people to roll something this aggressive out without a significant backlash.

almost 4 years ago


Love Social Media

This incident proves that you must choose your words wisely before posting it on the internet. Read and re-read your post, especially when it regards important information for your consumers and their information or property. Because we cannot read body language or ask questions and get an immediate response for clarification with this type of communication, it's imperative to be crystal clear the first time around. A good way to resolve any miscommunication or questions before your information is made public, ask a colleague or someone outside of your department if the message you are trying to communicate is clear and understandable.

almost 4 years ago

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