If you want to stop social networking services from exploiting your likeness for advertising, you've got to start paying up.
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Not that any of this is all that surprising. It's a free service that's been focused on building user engagement, et cetera, in hopes of selling that engagement to advertisers.
Which reminds me of this wonderful mini-rant from Pinboard's Maciej Ceglowski, who identifies the key problem:
To avoid this problem, avoid mom-and-pop projects that don't take your money! You might call this the anti-free-software movement.
If every additional user is putting money in the developers' pockets, then you're less likely to see the site disappear overnight. If every new user is costing the developers money, and the site is really taking off, then get ready to read about those synergies.
To illustrate, I have prepared this handy chart:
Free Paid Stagnant losing money making money Growing losing more money making more money Exploding losing lots of money making lots of money
Under these conditions, companies have to sell themselves because they do not have a sustainable business. And when they're sold, they either A) get shut down or B) become part of an advertising machine, like Facebook's.
Truly, the only way to get around the privacy problems inherent in advertising-supported social networks is to pay for services that we value. It's amazing what power we gain in becoming paying customers instead of the product being sold.
Here's an alternative version of what Instagram could have done before Facebook purchased them. Instagram has, what, 100 million users? If they got $5 a month from 20 million of those users, they'd be looking at $300 million in quarterly revenue. That's a nice chunk of change when you have a baker's dozen employees. You think those guys could split more than a billion dollars a year and call it good. Or hell, make the user numbers an order of magnitude smaller: 2 million out of 10 million users. That's still $30 million dollars a quarter for 13 guys.