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Social media: History’s least profitable revolution

Facebook’s ham-handed attempt to monetize Instagram demonstrates a fundamental challenge with social media: It is the first wildly popular trend in modern history that seems unable to generate profits in keeping with its widespread usage.

Facebook set off a storm of protest on Tuesday by claiming the right to sell, for its own profit, any photos uploaded by users on its Instagram site. Instagram users quickly vented their fury, arguing that the pictures they uploaded (primarily sunsets and perversely overloaded brunch plates) were their own property.