Last week, there was more than a little pitchfork- and torch-grabbing surrounding the Path privacy debacle. It was revealed that the social networking application was uploading users’ entire address books without disclosure. It was quickly found that Path was not the sole offender, and the PR nightmare ensued.
Apologies have since been given and received, and the entire situation has generally quieted. But we noticed that one social app tried to silently update its privacy service to avoid being looped in with the fallout.
On Friday, Instagram introduced a couple of new features, including a photo balancing tool and a new filter. In addition — but not mentioned in its official announcement – Instagram has updated its “Find friends” application. Now when you request the app grab friends from your contact list, a new message pops up reading:
The prompt obviously means Instagram can avoid the type of user revolt that Path and Hipster fell victim to. Now that we’re all paying a little more attention to where apps are grabbing contacts, Instagram was wise to slide the permission screen in there. It was subtle, Instagram, but not unnoticed.
It feels like most apps are inclined to take their chances and apologize later instead of asking for permission first when it concerns privacy. You run the risk of enraging users and even inviting government investigations, something mobile companies learning a lot about last year when it was revealed they were tracking users’ location without properly informing them. But some get away with it and some don’t — and Instagram was lucky enough to be in the former category, this time.