The Difference Between Customers And Users

I’m always amused to see people throw a fit every time a free social media service updates their terms of service or privacy policy. The latest incident is Instagram’s updated Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

People don’t seem to understand difference between customers and users when it comes to these free social media services. A company like Instagram is in the business of content and exists to make money at the end of the day. This money comes from paying customers. By customers I don’t mean the people who use the service for free. I mean companies who pay to promote and advertise their stuff to users who use the service for free.

For a service like Instagram, users are the only means of getting customers. So they invest time and money to build stuff to give away and run the service for free for years with the idea that one day they we will reach a point where they can start monetizing the users. So I find it amusing when people cry foul when this actually comes to pass. As one of my Twitter friends so eloquently put it yesterday.

Which is why you will see me post all kinds of stuff on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. But you will never see me post pictures or videos of my wife and kids. If I want to share something intimate with my friends and family I use email. I don’t post it on some free service that could one day use my son’s picture to promote some company’s product without first seeking my permission or providing any sort of compensation.

Bottom line is I do not want to be in a position where an ethical or unethical social media service rightly or wrongly uses or abuses anything that I post on their free service because I understand that I am a user and not their customer.