Instagram Gets Facebook-Style Profile Pages & Photo Sharing May Never Look the Same

All the Rage 1

When it comes time for me to sit down and pull together family pictures for the photo book I create every December and I inevitably discover that hardly anything is print-worthy because I've spent the entire year capturing precious memories with a cellphone, my photography regrets will be centered around one name: Instagram.

My name is Linda, and I am an Instagram addict. I love being able to see the moments my friends choose to share from their lives, and I love the incredible ease in which I can share my own. If I am occasionally tempted to over-rely on the plethora of available filters, well, sue me: sometimes a scene just looks better when it's got an X-Pro boost.

After Facebook bought Instagram for a cool billion, people wondered what (potentially unwanted) updates might be in store for our favorite photo-sharing app. Well, the first big change has officially been announced, and it's a doozy -- maybe especially for privacy advocates.

While Instagram's appeal (10 million users strong and counting) has mostly centered around the fact that it's a mobile app, they've decided to bring everyone's photos to the web. With a layout that's suspiciously similar to Facebook's Timeline, Instagram's new profile pages essentially take the mobile experience back to the desktop, with most of the features included in the web version (excepting the ability to upload images).

Here's what Instagram announced:

Your web profile features a selection of your recently shared photographs just above your profile photo and bio, giving others a snapshot of the photos you share on Instagram. In addition, you can follow users, comment & like photos and edit your profile easily and directly from the web. (...) To see your profile, or to explore a friend’s profile, simply navigate to instagram.com/[username].

Instagram is rolling this out over the next few days, so you may not see your own profile yet -- but for an example of how it works, you can look at Nike's.

There's a lot about this that I like, despite the fact that this seems like a step backwards in terms of technology trends. I like that it'll be easier to share photos with my non-Instagram-using family members, and I like that I can see a photo that's, say, linked from Twitter or something, and be able to start following that user right away (rather than looking them up within the app). It's nice to be able to comment online instead of typing on a phone.

But it also raises some uneasy questions about what this wide-open access will mean for the Instagram communities, and whether or not we really want our photos plastered online for anyone to see. I mean, it's not like Instagram is a secure system (unless you lock your account, and even then there's no certainty someone can't find your pictures) -- but at least I feel relatively confident that if I share a picture of my kid, the only people who are likely to see it are the friends I have on Instagram.

That will all change with a web page devoted to every Instagram user, of course. And while Instagram says this change was meant to support an increasing number of requests, it makes you wonder if it's only a matter of time until these new profile pages will be monetized by Facebook. An algorithm that scans images and serves up relevant ads? Hey, I wouldn't be surprised at all if we start seeing diaper ads next to those cute baby photos someday.

What do you think about Instagram's new profile pages? Are you a fan?


Image via Instagram

social media, photos