The photo-sharing app has avoided the scandal that has engulfed its owner, Facebook. But for how long?
It has been a rough few weeks for Facebook since the Observer reported the Cambridge Analytica data breach. The scandal revealed how the political consulting firm might have raked up the personal information of at least 87 million Facebook users in order to influence them with tailored political ads, sent the social network’s stocks into a tailspin, triggered the #DeleteFacebook movement – and regaled the planet with the cringefest that was CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before the US Senate. But if Facebook’s reputation has seen better days, one of the company’s most valuable assets has come out of the kerfuffle practically unscathed.
Instagram, the photo-sharing platform Facebook acquired in 2012 for $715m, has not yet come up in the debate over Facebook’s cavalier attitude to user data protection, despite being of a piece with the longer-running social network (and being headquartered just a few blocks from Facebook’s Menlo Park campus in California). Prominent members of the #DeleteFacebook campaign, such as SpaceX’s Elon Musk, singer Cher, and Playboy magazine, are still pretty much present and active on Instagram. The app’s apparent immunity to whatever befalls its owner, and the possibility that this might not last, even led a Reuters analyst to recommend that Facebook spin off Instagram as a separate company, to shield it from reputational contagion.