I’m a little crazy. I’ll admit that. But I’m not insane.
So I was amused by MG Siegler’s assertion that “sane people don’t quit services when they make terms of service changes. They quit them when they start to suck. Focus your energy on calling out the suckage.” Unless, oh, just for the sake of argument, you don’t like their terms of service. This notion that “sane people don’t quit services when they make terms of service changes” is dangerous in the long run. Of course, I could just be a “delusional, paranoid jackass,” as Siegler calls anyone calling into question the motives of Instagram or Facebook.
When a company adds this to their terms of service, “you agree that a business may pay Instagram to display your photos in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions without any compensation to you,” I simply take that at face value. It is completely new wording. It didn’t exist in the terms of service before. It does now. Am I insane to stop, pause and consider if I’m ok with that? I don’t think so. I think that’s incredibly sane.
Obviously, the people over at National Geographic think so as well. “@NatGeo is suspending new posts to Instagram,” they posted on their Instagram wall. “We are very concerned with the direction of the proposed new terms of service and if they remain as presented we may close the account.” Would it be insane for National Geographic to close their account over a terms of service change? I don’t think so.
Get Comfortable With The Technopoly
“We are currently surrounded by throngs of zealous Theuths, one-eyed prophets who see only what new technologies can do and are incapable of imagining what they will undo,” Neil Postman wrote in Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. “We might call such people Technophiles. They gaze on technology as a lover does on his beloved, seeing it as without blemish and entertaining no apprehension for the future. They are therefore dangerous and are to be approached cautiously.”
Of course, to the zealous Theuths who will help the masses forget this TOS change ever happened, that sounds insane, I’m sure. But being the “delusional, paranoid jackass” I am, I have a fear. I fear we are like the proverbial frog dropped in a pot of warm water. We are unaware that the fire beneath the pot is being turned up and that we are being led to our social demise. Slowly and surely we are being encouraged to willingly give up more and more of our privacy, more and more of our rights. Most people don’t even read the terms of service for the sites they sign up to use anyway. And, as Higher Living commented on The Verge, “if they (Instagram) actually see any lowering of usage, they will come out and apologise, explain that they will review the TOS, perhaps tweak it slightly and you’ll never hear anything about it again. Zuckerberg has this strategy down.”
Of course, Higher Living was right. Instagram quickly apologized for the “misunderstanding” of their new wording. “The language we proposed,” Kevin Systrom wrote, “also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question.” And we’ll all dutifully forget this ever happened.
A State Of Culture
“Technopoly is a state of culture,” Postman explains. “It is also a state of mind. It consists in the deification of technology, which means that the culture seeks its authorization in technology, finds its satisfactions in technology, and takes its orders from technology.” And that is why I find the notion that you’re “insane to quit a service when they change their terms of service” so amusing.
The water is warm. Jump in.