CBS News — Instagram announced Wednesday it will let users download everything they’ve ever shared on the platform. That includes “photos, videos, messages, and stories they’ve archived,” bringing its data policies in line with its parent company, Facebook. While Facebook has been sharply criticized for its privacy policies, Instagram has largely avoided controversy.
In recent years, Instagram has grown to become the second-largest social media platform in the country. But although Facebook is behind that growth, most people don’t know they’re the same company.
And that is no accident.
College student Jessica Leora told us she’s a daily Instagram user, following artists and feeds she enjoys. But when she found out who owns Instagram:
“Is it really? Oh my God,” Leora said.
“Why do you say ‘oh my God’?” CBS News correspondent Dokoupil asked.
“Because I’ve been hearing about Mark Zuckerberg and a lot of people are calling him a slimy weasel,” Leora said.
Leora is not the only one confused and potentially uneasy about Instagram. Almost 57 percent of Americans don’t know that Facebook owns Instagram. TechCrunch editor-at-large Josh Constine said that’s the way Facebook likes it.
“Facebook purposefully tries to keep the Instagram brand as separate as possible; they even operate a separate office. There’s no Facebook branding in the Instagram app. You really have to be a savvy tech insider to get that,” Constine said.
“How important is Instagram to the future of Facebook?” Dokoupil asked.
“Instagram really is the life raft for Facebook. No matter what happens to the Facebook brand, Instagram will be there to pick up the pieces. As users flee Facebook because their parents are on it or they’re sick of the boring, old, 14-year-old news feed they can hop on Instagram and still have fun,” Constine said.
Last year Facebook lost almost three million users under the age of 25, and for the first time posted a net decline of 700,000 users in North America. This year the under-25 crowd is projected to shrink again on Facebook but keep growing on Instagram.
“Every social network has a half-life. Eventually parents get on it, grandparents get on it, your boss gets on it. And you don’t want to hang out with them,” Constine said.
But what if young Instagram users decide they don’t want to hang with Mark Zuckerberg either? That’s a decision Leora is now weighing for herself. She said the fact that Instagram is owned by Facebook changes her opinion of Instagram.
“It means they’re probably following me. Just like they do on Facebook,” Leora said. “I don’t like my privacy invaded.”
“So Instagram was an escape from Facebook, and now ―” Dokoupil said.
“And now I can’t seem to escape anything,” Leora responded.
In a statement, Instagram said it will never sell users data, photos or videos.
So far the “Delete Facebook” movement has not morphed into a “Delete Instagram” movement. “Delete Facebook” advocates like Rosie O’Donnell, Cher and SpaceX are still active on Instagram.