When AppData first posted a graph (above) showing a 25 percent drop in Instagram’s daily active users, it sparked a flurry of discussion online—much of it focused on the recent controversy over the photo-sharing service’s Terms of Use. The New York Post, for example, blamed the dip on a “revolt” among Instagram users incensed over changes in the Terms of Use, including new legalese that some interpreted as blanket permission for the service to start selling user photos to advertisers. But a new statement from AppData, which tracks app traffic, suggests there’s another cause behind the dip in daily active users: the season. “The decline in Facebook-connected daily active users began closer to Christmas, not immediately after the proposed policy changes,” read a statement the firm sent to The Wall Street Journal. “The drop between Dec. 24 and 25 seems likely to be related to the holiday, during which time people are traveling and otherwise have different routines than usual.” According to AppData, other popular apps—including Skype and Pinterest— experienced similar drop-offs. Online publications such as Inside Facebook blamed the New York Post report for a 2.9 percent tumble in Facebook’s stock price, which had mostly recovered by the afternoon of Dec. 28. For its part, Instagram denied a dip in users, with a spokesperson telling the Los Angeles Times: “We continue to see strong and steady growth in both registered and active users of Instagram.” After upsetting many users with its revised Terms of Use, Instagram reverted back to its old policies last week. “Going forward, rather than obtain permission from you to introduce possible advertising products we have not yet developed,” Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s co-founder, wrote in a Dec. 20 corporate blog posting. “we are going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work.” The most controversial aspect of those revised Terms of Use, the one that many users interpreted as giving Instagram carte blanche to sell their images, read as follows:
“To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata) on your behalf.”
Whereas the reverted terms read:
“Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, subject to the Service’s Privacy Policy, available here http://instagram.com/legal/privacy/, including but not limited to sections 3 (“Sharing of Your Information”), 4 (“How We Store Your Information”), and 5 (“Your Choices About Your Information”). You can choose who can view your Content and activities, including your photos, as described in the Privacy Policy.”
Some pundits and publications have suggested the original terms were actually worse for users. “The proposed tweaks made it very clear that advertisers, for example, couldn’t just stick their logo on one of your photos and use it as an Instagram ad,” Bryan Bishop wrote in a Dec. 20 posting on The Verge. “The language the company’s going back to is so broad that such use isn’t out of the realm of possibility—and in that sense today’s development is actually a loss for users.” Nonetheless, all the controversy doesn’t seem to be driving them away.   Image: AppData