Hey Yahoo, The Instagram Debacle Is Your Big Chance

The holidays may have come early for Yahoo this year... assuming that the company is paying attention.

Just last week I noted that if Facebook makes a misstep with its biggest acquisition to date, Yahoo's Flickr photo-sharing service is perfectly positioned to welcome a mass exodus of Instagram users. That seems to be happening right now as an update to Instagram's Terms of Service has many Instagrammers up in arms.

See Jon Mitchell's Why I Quit Instagram And Am Moving To Flickr

See John Paul Titlow's Facebook Poisons Instagram For Its Most Valuable Users: Real Photographers

The text of the update, which appeared at the top of my Instagram feed on Monday, is available in full on Instagram's blog. Want the Cliff's Notes? Facebook will be pumping ads into Instagram and your photos are fair game:

"Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. 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."

The new Instagram terms go into effect January 16th. 

So what's the problem? People don't trust Facebook. In spite of inching toward transparency, the social network is so big (and so slippery, historically) that many members are suspicious of its motives. When Facebook bought Instagram last spring, the consensus was that the deal was an expensive way to neuter an emergent threat. But the boost to Facebook's Like-worthiness could have been just as valuable, assuming the social behemoth didn't fumble its biggest acquisition. 

Enter Instagram, an extremely well-loved app - especially considering its age. And for a while Facebook treated its shiny new toy with kid gloves. The company swore up and down that the beloved mobile-only service would maintain its autonomy from the world's biggest social network. Facebook tread carefully to avoid upsetting the big new brand under its wing.

Until this week, that is. 

If Facebook breaks Instagram, users won't hate only the implementation of ads and the monetization of their content without payment; they'll loathe the brand that made their favorite app un-fun. "Ugh, Facebook ruins everything," they'll huff about the new ToS.

Yahoo's Flickr Moment?

Hey, Yahoo... you're writing all of this down, right? It's go-time if you want to take advantage of the newly bubbling discontent with Instagram. But you've got to be pro-active.

Slash Flickr Pro membership prices, blast some sassy remarks across social channels... whatever it takes. You just launched a great mobile update. People want a photo sharing service they can trust - or maybe even just one that isn't bound up in Facebook. Instagram's wave of social photogs might be ready to flee the app for greener, more trustworthy pastures - and they're looking for a pied piper. Now is your chance to make sure Flickr is that place.

Ready to make the jump yourself? Services like Instaport and OpenPhoto let you download your Instagram photos in one fell swoop so you can batch upload them to Flickr. Godpseed!