Tag Archives: read the fine print


About a year ago, research for If Emily Posted opened my eyes to the sheer number of third party apps that violate the Terms of Service provided with the API for developers. With a focus on Instagram apps, which were blowing up across the interwebs, I went to work getting in touch with developers believing in what IEP has taught me again and again – sometimes people make mistakes simply because they don’t understand the rules.

The good news? A few totally took the responsibility and did something about it. STAT.

The not so good news? Whether they made changes or not, most had NO IDEA they were breaking the TOS – because they’d never read them.

So, it shouldn’t surprise me when I see a new app breaking the rules. And yet, it still does.

It began with few images in my Instagram feed with a blue bar across the bottom displaying another user’s avatar and username. Last night, I checked out what it was.

“Do more than like it – Repost it.” This is the tag line on the App Store page for the Repost to Instagram app, Repostapp, which is a super simple and free way to REPOST the Instagrams you love.

Except here’s the thing: no one has the right to repost an Instagram.

I know it’s an oldie, but an early IEP rule that still applies: Giving credit isn’t getting permission.

if emily posted getting permission

Reposting and reblogging are terms I’m seeing across social media. And it’s generally nothing more than a fancy way of saying: this isn’t mine but I’m sharing it with you.

FACT: Just because new words enter the social media lexicon doesn’t make them acceptable.

Granted, there are times when an Instagram repost is a nonissue. Friends screenshot and repost images on Instagram often, and that’s between friends and generally cool. But an app with the express purpose, the only purpose, to make reposting a thing – not cool.

On the App Store site, they write:

“Stop the screenshot & cropping nonsense.”

Um, no. Instead, it’s time we stop this nonsense amongst third party developers who toss aside TOS. The Repostapp has a huge following, and while I think those that download the app need to take responsibility for disregarding the TOS, there’s a false sense of OK when people see an app that offers them tools that they shouldn’t have. The responsibility falls on both.

A developer friend once told me that an app developer’s goal is to see what they can make possible, not necessarily what they should make possible, once an API is in their hands. And many sites, like Instagram, do a less than stellar job of monitoring third party apps.

I know Repostapp isn’t alone in this. There is at least one other app that does the same thing. It’s not OK. They need to be taken down by the App Store and I’m reaching out to the developers. Youre welcome to do the same. We’ll see what happens.

Also, here’s a link to last year’s post on third party apps and developer responsibility.

third party apps must respect IP ©alexashersears


instagram photos of you cookie if emily postedAs of yesterday, Instagram added PHOTOS OF YOU, which means you can now tag the people you’re brunching with in the photo of your eggs benedict. It seems Mark Zuckerberg’s assurances that Instagram would not become Facebook were something we weren’t supposed to remember?

In writing If Emily Posted, I often clip announcements like Zuckerberg’s billion dollar Instagram buy or a site’s Terms of Service to refer to later. I was kicking myself for misplacing this one because Zuckerberg’s Timeline post link no longer works, and I could have sworn that in it he said something reassuring about Instagram not becoming Facebook.

I was only frustrated for ten seconds or so before I remembered that this is the internet.

I googled and found two sources I trust, The New York Times and The Guardian newspapers, quoted the statement. There were the words I remembered:

“We’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently.”

(Oh, Mark. Didn’t anyone tell you that Facebook is forever?)

Some people might think tagging is a brilliant idea. We’ve been doing this by leaving handles in comments since the site began. Is there really any difference?



By adding this tagging feature, IG will notify you of every tag – and then you can opt to manually OK them or let whomever tags you do so automatically.

What was once a social media platform that didn’t have follow-back pressure, is now nudging users to follow more. Connect more.

(If someone has a private account, Instagram states they will have the same privacy as always. And the tab under which PHOTOS OF YOU will display doesn’t go live until May 16th, giving you time to play with it.)

As Tech Crunch stated yesterday:

“Each time you get notified that you’ve been tagged, you’re likely to immediately go check out the photo on Instagram. It’s this same viral reengagement technique that helped Facebook grow so quickly in its early days. Instagram already has over 100 million users, but this could get them spending more time with the app. It also might draw in new users who want to be able to see where they’ve been tagged.”

Instagram is different things to different people, but one very cool thing has always been that it didn’t ask much of users other than to respect one another’s intellectual property.

Share a little, share a lot. Use it all day long to post photos and comment, or post shots and nothing more. Or comment and don’t take any photos. It’s your app. Make it work for you.

Some users don’t even use their real names. Either as a handle or in their profile, and that’s totally kosher, too. When a bunch of people are tagged in a comment, you don’t necessarily know if they were in the shots. And if the person is linking it to Twitter, the handles might not even match. Which isn’t exactly ideal for the data seekers.


On their blog, Instagram explains that the new tagging feature lets you ‘“add any account on Instagram, whether it’s your best friend, favorite coffee shop or even that adorable dog you follow.”

And on their other blog, for businesses, they make sure brands know “Photos of You gives you a new way to curate and share the photos that best showcase your brand as documented by your biggest fans.”

RULE: I think it’s fair to say that if you use public Instagram and tag a brand, you’re basically giving them the OK to use your images.

Which is why when someone said to me that they were expecting ads to be the next announcement, I kind of felt like this was heading that direction.

Photos of You Facebook IEP

A reminder to tag is another way to data mine.

Companies can see what people are trying on in the dressing room at Target, what time of day they buy it, and if they geotag, just which Target store they bought it from. They can then visit that person’s stream and see the way they decorate their home, where they like to travel or go out for dinner.

We’re the product.

And that’s OK as long as we know we are.


A funny thing that happened on the way to becoming a regular Instagrammer is that I began to appreciate all of the people with a bazillion followers who weren’t following anyone. Those who simply enjoyed sharing their beautiful images.

But now, with every photo taken, a little icon will remind users that it’s not enough to share your view. The Facebookification of Instagram replaces it’s laid back style with a nagging voice telling everyone to mingle more.

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but add a few more.

In the deleted Facebook post about the Instagram purchase, Zuckerberg wrote:

“We need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.”

And I think that’s why PHOTOS OF YOU is a sign Facebook is out of touch with what makes Instagram so popular. People don’t go there to find pictures of themselves. They go there to find pictures of the world around them.

For a social sharing site, Instagram is pretty much devoid of the cringe-worthy stuff people post on Facebook daily. Like an unwritten rule in the TOS, friends don’t let friends post awful photos on Instagram. And especially not on #ThrowbackThursday.