When Facebook handed Instagram an enormous cheque most people were surprised, but it sort of made sense. Aside from data mining, people use Facebook to share photos, and Instagram was on the up and up thanks to its automatic shot filtering that made a simple iPhone snap look a little more Lomo. Its popularity soared on Twitter, too, but the company has just put a stop to that with little explanation why.
Twitter users will no longer be able to properly display photographs though its website or apps. Instead, users are now redirected from tweets through to Instagram’s own website, cutting out the quick view option many subscribers have enjoyed from its inception. A picture seems worth more than 140 characters, from Instagram’s perspective, although the only details it gave were that disabling Twitter integration “made sense” “right now”.
There is no indication whether the benevolent Zucktatorship gave the orders, but the move does seem a little out of the blue.
Speaking at LeWeb, the Wall Street Journal reports Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom as saying things “change as a company evolves”. Whether that evolution is intrinsically linked to the whim of Facebook is up for debate.
As the WSJ notes, tensions began to build when Instagram was bought by Facebook. Cutting the most important ties appears to be a result of those tensions, but there are no specifics in the wild just yet.
Facebook’s primary way of monetising is data mining, and all three social media players are struggling to figure out the best way to make money out of amateur photography. Facebook gave automatic photo tagging a go, but that got a thumbs down from people who valued their privacy – not enough to permanently delete their account, but enough to get creeped out by Facebook recognising them.
This feud seems to be specifically between Instagram and Twitter. Other services, such as Tumblr, Foursquare, and, well, Facebook, will remain unaffected. For its part, Twitter is expected to introduce its own photo filters, like those on offer from Instagram, so those frozen out by the latter’s move can continue to enjoy intentionally blurry photos of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with full integration.