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Facebook’s new photo tool is all flash

By J. Wesley Wilson–

You’re going to be wondering soon why everyone is holding their phone so close to their food and their cats, because Facebook–the biggest internet company since Google–came seemingly out of nowhere last week to buy out Instagram, makers of the newly exploding photo sharing app that is their namesake.

The deal, which cost Facebook one billion dollars (Instagram was last valued at 500 million), is extremely important from a business end–with Facebook grabbing a hot Internet company before Google or Apple came along to snatch them up–but won’t really matter much to the users of Instagram.

It’s to be sure that some of the early adopters feel annoyed that Instagram ‘Sold Out’, but since Instagram was valued at more money than the entire senior class at UofL will make in their lifetimes and already had thirty million users before the deal, I would tend to disagree. Facebook is also keeping Instagram independent and unchanged. This means that Instagram won’t be requiring users to have Facebook accounts, if you’re too cool for that sort of thing.

And ‘Cool’ is definitely a factor when talking about Instagram. The draw to Instagram as a social platform isn’t just because you can share pictures on it. We’ve been doing that with Facebook and Twitter since what seems like the bronze age. So what sets Instagram apart? Images posted to Instagram are cropped and filtered to look like polaroids, a hallmark of hipsterdom since digital cameras became ultra-accessible in the mid 2000’s.

The Instagram app allows users to apply filters on their photos to achieve different effects.

The so-called hipness of Instagram is what is what will doom the image-sharer in the long run. It doesn’t do anything useful. It’s main and only real feature-image-sharing with hashtags–point out the biggest flaw it has. Everything that you can do with Instagram you can already do on the big three social networks (Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr), unless you really like color filters. These problems are compounded when most users auto-post their Instagram photos to other networks, keeping followers updated no matter if they use the app or not.

Since there doesn’t seem to be any crucial feature that Instagram offers as a social media tool that isn’t already offered by the more dominant networks, it seems bound to end up a fad, never to fully succeed outside of the relatively large–but niche–market it already holds.

opinion@louisvillecardinal.com
Photos: Caitlin Williams/The Louisville Cardinal

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