Future Tense

Instagram Users Appalled To Learn That Instagram Is a Business

Instagram's Kevin Systrom

Kevin, how could you!? Mark put you up to this, didn’t he.

Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for TechCrunch

It’s that awful moment when you find out that your favorite free pro-bono photo-sharing charity is secretly planning to make money.

Business Insider rocked certain segments of the tech world today with the following, typically breathless headline: “FACEBOOK CONFIRMS: Ads Are Coming To Instagram.” To be clear, the article itself neglects to substantiate this assertion. Here are Facebook VP Carolyn Everson’s exact words, according to Business Insider:

BI: Will you put ads in Instagram?

CE: Eventually we’ll figure out a way to monetize Instagram.

That’s not a “yes,” it’s a dodge. There are many ways to monetize services besides putting ads in them, and while it’s certainly logical to assume that advertising would be among those, Everson specifically avoided confirming that. Yet the tech blogosphere has run with the non-story anyway. The Verge took the admirable step of making its headline accurate, rendering it, “Facebook confirms it will ‘monetize’ Instagram.” But it apparently overlooked the fact that once you make the story accurate, it’s no longer a story. Or does our naivete about the social-media industry run so deep that “Business confirms it will eventually try to make money from its products” counts as breaking news?

Apparently we have. See the tweets below for a sampling of the crushed reactions.

The funny thing is, I exchanged emails with an Instagram spokesperson who actually did offer something closer to a confirmation that Instagram will eventually have ads—not that it’s any surprise. Here’s the statement the company gave me: “The Instagram team has always been on track for building a business and they’re continuing to evaluate when, how, and in what form advertising inside Instagram plays a role in creating value for users and brands alike.” There! Now everyone can be shocked and dismayed all over again.