Instagram and Facebook Must Profit Off of You.

FIVE THôT columnist Rocky McGredy gives us his view on the world in weekly doses.

Legal jargon is confusing. It is most of the reason why I never read legal jargon, and most of the reason why I’ll just accept my fate and hire a lawyer if I ever get into legal trouble. I scroll to the bottom of the terms and conditions page, mark that I read the whole thing, and press accept; because I know that what I’m scrolling through is written in dense and disorienting language, and I’ll most likely misinterpret what I’ve read. I’m not saying I’m stupid or anything, I just know for a fact there isn’t a team of lawyers in my head prepared to translate the iTunes terms of use.

So, why is it that ever since the “Facebook privacy debacle,” (I use quotation marks because I don’t believe there was ever such a debacle) people have been freaking out every single time the company changes a period to a comma? The most obvious recent example is when Instagram changed their policy. All of a sudden, everyone is a photographer in fear of losing their artistic license; and all of a sudden Instagram is an evil company trying to steal your pictures and sell them to the masses.

I can’t believe people actually thought that was the intention of the policy change, but I’m not going to get into that because that’s not what my point is. I simply don’t understand what everyone is freaking out about. Do you think that these companies operate for free out of the goodness of their hearts?

Facebook may have a goal in mind: to connect people through an easy and efficient means of communication, and to make everybody more open. We’ve all heard Zuckerberg explain this idea to some extent. Those are pure and good intentions, but the fact of the matter is that these companies still have operating costs. That seems to be what people don’t understand. Let me spell it out for you: if instagram doesn’t find a way to make money off of you, then there is no reason for them to exist.

Now, which would you rather? Would you rather subject yourself to advertising, so you can continue to use the product for free? Or would you rather pay a monthly-fee that keeps your beloved product in existence? Do you want money coming directly out of your pocket, or do you want money coming out of somebody else’s pocket for your benefit.

There is no option for ‘neither’. Companies need to profit in order to exist. Instagram is going to find a way to profit off of you, but they don’t want to change their free service to a subscription one; because that would piss you off. What shouldn’t piss you off is when they try to find a way to make money off of you that doesn’t involve taking money directly from you. So, stop freaking out when that thing you like tries to keep existing.

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