When it did so, it stirred up a caldron of ill will that the "People of the Internet" have been harboring toward Mark Zuckerberg's once-hip company. Some Instagram users said they were downloading all of their photos and then deleting them from the app just so Facebook couldn't get its hands on them.
Pundits weren't kind to Facebook, either.David Horsey of the Los Angeles Times, writing about the Instagram purchase, noted thatthe company is looking more and more like "Big Friend," a gentler variation on George Orwell's all-seeing Big Brother. Data indicate others share that view, too. A new poll, conducted before the Instagram news, found that 28% of Americans have an unfavorable view of Facebook -- twice as many as disapprove of Apple and nearly three times as many as Google.
This backlash highlights a new reality: As a technological juggernaut, Facebook is more Microsoft than Tumblr. To use amusical analogy employed on Twitter, it's the Nickelback to Instagram's Bon Iver.
Facebook and Instagram's images couldn't be more different, so it's tempting to say that this Goliath-buys-David event is a turning point for Facebook. But people have been writing about Facebook losing its mojo for years now. In 2009, AdWeek ran this headline: "Is Facebook getting uncool for 18-24s?" A year later, mainstream news websites noted the phenomenon of parents and grandparents joining Facebook, scaring off younger people.
It's hard to pinpoint the moment when Facebook's image problem started. Maybe it was when users realized how much data Facebook was collecting about them. Maybe it was when CEO Zuckerberg started to seem less like that geeky, counterculture college kid and more like a run-of-the-mill billionaire.
But it is possible to take a look at the conversation and tease out a few factors that seem to have led to Facebook's current status as an inescapable, perhaps Orwellian, Internet giant.