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Will Instagram Turn Into Another Facebook Following the Resignation of Its Founders?

Facebook may soon have a new challenge on its hands: Figuring out how to keep Instagram growing if it loses the coolness factor that has bolstered it for so long.

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Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Instagram, prepares for an announcement about IGTV in San Francisco. VOA
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When Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger sold Instagram to Facebook in 2012, the photo-sharing startup’s fiercely loyal fans worried about what would happen to their beloved app under the social media giant’s wings.

None of their worst fears materialized. But now that its founders have announced they are leaving in a swirl of well wishes and vague explanations, some of the same worries are bubbling up again — and then some. Will Instagram disappear? Get cluttered with ads and status updates? Suck up personal data for advertising the way its parent does? Lose its cool?

Worst of all: Will it just become another Facebook?

“It”s probably a bigger challenge (for Facebook) than most people realize,” said Omar Akhtar, an analyst at the technology research firm Altimeter. “Instagram is the only platform that is growing. And a lot of people didn’t necessarily make the connection between Instagram and Facebook.”

Instagram
Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Instagram, prepares for Wednesday’s announcement about IGTV in San Francisco, June 19, 2018. (VOA)

Instagram had just 31 million users when Facebook snapped it up for $1 billion; now it has a billion. It had no ads back then; it now features both display and video ads, although they’re still restrained compared to Facebook. But that could quickly change. Facebook’s growth has started to slow, and Wall Street has been pushing the company to find new ways to increase revenue.

Instagram has been a primary focus of those efforts.

Facebook has been elevating Instagram’s profile in its financial discussions. In July, it unveiled a new metric for analysts, touting that 2.5 billion people use at least one of its apps — Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger — each month. While not particularly revealing, the measurement underscores the growing importance Facebook places on those secondary apps.

Facebook doesn’t disclose how much money Instagram pulls in, though Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter estimates it’ll be around $6 billion this year, or just over 10 percent of Facebook’s expected overall revenue of about $55.7 billion.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at a Facebook developers conference in San Jose, California. VOA

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long seen Instagram’s promise. At the time, it was by far Facebook’s largest acquisition (although it was dwarfed by the $19 billion Zuckerberg paid for WhatsApp two years later). And it was the first startup allowed to operate mostly independently.

That has paid off big time. Not only did Instagram reach 1 billion users faster than its parent company, it also succeeded in cloning a popular Snapchat feature, dealing a serious blow to that social network upstart and succeeding where Facebook’s own attempts had repeatedly failed. Instagram also pioneered a long-form video feature to challenge YouTube, another big Facebook rival.

Recently, Instagram has been on a roll. In June, Systrom traveled to New York to mark the opening of its new office there, complete with a gelato bar and plans to hire hundreds of engineers. Only a month earlier, Instagram had moved into sparkly new offices in San Francisco. In a July earnings call, Zuckerberg touted Instagram’s success as a function of its integration with Facebook, claiming that it used parent-company infrastructure to grow “more than twice as quickly as it would have on its own.”

But Instagram has also been a case study in how to run a subsidiary independently — especially when its parent is mired in user-privacy problems and concerns about election interference, fake news and misinformation. And especially when its parent has long stopped being cool, what with everyone and their grandma now on it.

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One sign that additional integration may be in Instagram’s future: Zuckerberg in May sent longtime Facebook executive Adam Mosseri to run Instagram’s product operation. Pixabay

Instagram’s simple design — just a collection of photos and videos of sunsets, faraway vacations, intimate breakfasts and baby close-ups — has allowed it to remain a favorite long after it became part of Facebook. If people go to Twitter to bicker over current events and to Facebook to see what old classmates are up to, Instagram is where they go to relax, scroll and feast their eyes.

So, will that change?

“I don’t think Zuckerberg is dumb,” Akhtar said. “He knows that a large part of Instagram’s popularity is that it’s separate from Facebook.”

As such, he thinks Facebook would be wise to reassure users that what they love about Instagram isn’t going to change — that they are not going to be forced to integrate with Facebook. “That’ll go a long way,” he said.

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WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum speaks during a conference at the Mobile World Congress, VOA

Internally, the challenge is a bit more complicated. While Systrom and Krieger didn’t say why they’re leaving, their decision echoes the recent departure of WhatsApp’s co-founder and CEO Jan Koum, who resigned in April. Koum had signaled years earlier that he would take a stand if Facebook’s push to increase profits risked compromising core elements of the WhatsApp messaging service, such as its dedication to user privacy. When Facebook started pushing harder for more revenue and more integration with WhatsApp, Koum pulled the ripcord.

One sign that additional integration may be in Instagram’s future: Zuckerberg in May sent longtime Facebook executive Adam Mosseri to run Instagram’s product operation. Mosseri replaced longtime Instagrammer Kevin Weil, who was shuffled back to the Facebook mothership.

Also Read: Facebook Introduces Free Online Education Programme in The US

That likely didn’t sit well with Instagram’s founders, Akhtar and other analysts said. Now that they’re gone as well, Mosseri is the most obvious candidate to head Instagram.

“Kevin Systrom loyalists are probably going to leave,” Akhtar said.

Which means Facebook may soon have a new challenge on its hands: Figuring out how to keep Instagram growing if it loses the coolness factor that has bolstered it for so long. (VOA)

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Swara Bhaskar Feels That Social Media Must Have Civil Conduct

Swara, who featured in web series "It's Not That Simple", said: "I am doing very interesting work in the web space. I am very excited. I think the web space is a new space

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Swara Bhaskar
We should have a civil conduct on social media: Swara. flickr

Known for speaking her mind, actress Swara Bhasker, who has often been a victim of trolling and online bullying, says like any other public sphere, social media should also have a civil conduct.

Asked if social media bullying bothers her, Swara told IANS here: “It used to bother me in the beginning when it happened and I felt very hurt. I felt it was very unjust… Then I realised life is unjust. They are not doing it out of a sense of justice, but doing it from a place of viciousness, hatred or genuine malintent. So what would you do about that? They have no identity. I became inured to it.”

Swara added that “social media is a virtual public sphere and like other public spaces we should have a civil conduct on social media. It is a virtual public space”.

The 30-year-old made her debut in filmdom in 2010 with “Madholal Keep Walking”. She was then seen in “Raanjhanaa”, “Tanu Weds Manu”, “Tanu Weds Manu Returns”, “Nil Battey Sannata”, “Anaarkali of Aarah”, “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo” and “Veere Di Wedding”.

Talking about the kind of work she wants to do now, Swara said: “I am at a strange point… because after ‘Nil Battey Sannata’, ‘Anarkali’ and ‘Veere Di Wedding’, I am like ‘What should my next script be?’ I don’t know how to up that because I feel the standards have become too high for scripts. I have not signed a film after ‘Veere Di Wedding’.”

Swara Bhaskar-starrer “Nil Battey Sannata”, which portrays an account of a single parent acting as a residential guarantee that her little girl gets great instruction, is having a decent keep running in the cinema world.
A look from Swara Bhaskar-starrer “Nil Battey Sannata”, which portrays an account of a single parent acting as a residential guarantee that her little girl gets great instruction. Flickr

Over her nine-year-journey in Bollywood, Swara has essayed relatable characters like Chanda from “Nil Battey Sannata” or Bindiya from “Raanjhanaa”.

“I have been very lucky also with the kind of roles I have been given or that I have landed even if they have been in the supporting category or protagonist roles…. I can’t control what I am offered but I can control what I choose. So, I am very careful of what I choose.”

The actress said she is “dying” to do the movies based on dancing around the trees “but now the dancing around the trees in Switzerland is not happening. So, I feel like I am 20 years late in the industry”.

Does she aspire to do something more?

“There is a lot of stuff I still want to do and I hope that I am able to do that in whatever I do next. I think as an artiste, you can never be satisfied because satisfaction means the beginning of the death of an actor. I don’t want to be satisfied. I hope that my ambition always stays unsatiated,” she added.

Also Read- Auction Of Stephen Hawking’s Belongings Will Take Place At Christie’s

So what’s next?

Swara, who featured in web series “It’s Not That Simple”, said: “I am doing very interesting work in the web space. I am very excited. I think the web space is a new space. It’s offering a lot of exciting and new work and I am holding on to my time for films because I want the next one to be very special.” (IANS)