I am a photographer who uses Instagram heavily on networking with other people in the community and exchanging ideas together. This never stops me from supporting Instagram on the feasible ideas that I perceive as for the good of the community compared to me critiquing their unfit ideas that I seem to find unethical.
Let me start by saying this "Instagram is a SHARK!" - meaning that they want %100 and will not let anyone have a piece of the pie. We have all seen the Vine kingdom fall because Instagram was able to create the video function and also add more value to it by increasing the time limit for videos. All it took them, other than the enhancements, was to get the Vinefamous people on board for Instagram. (as if they are switching sports teams). BOOM there you have it, NO MORE VINE.
What you can view from the table above is that Instagram just offered a better or enhance service to users who wanted to switch and started that strategy with the famous Viners to influence other users on the competing platform. "Was this ethical?" you may ask to yourself. I don't believe so but because there is considerable enhancement to the features it may be shoved under the rug I guess.
Play forward a few years later and now we have Snapchat vs Instagram. Facebook offered $3 billion cash acquisition to Snapchat which, accorindg to Wall Street Journal, Snapchat ended up refusing it. The Snapchat CEO, Evan Spiegel indicated that he is not interested in short-term gains since it took so much to build such a company.
Take a look at Snapchat CEO Reveals Why He Rejected Facebook's $3 Billion Offer: http://mashable.com/2014/01/06/snapchat-facebook-acquisition-2/#gCwbBzio5iqq
So because the offer was rejected, Facebook had to develop every resource they could have acquired from Snapchat in house now. Is that a big deal? Is it costlier? It definitely took them some time to build and develop as opposed to just acquiring Snapchat but today we are look at a Facebook/Instagram that is a full on shark to major competitors. "Is it ethical?" and/or "Is it legal?" may be the questions running through your head because Samsung and Apple, two tech giants in the mobile device industry, clashed legally to solve their disputes in the past.
Samsung vs Apple: https://www.macrumors.com/2017/01/13/apple-vs-samsung-reopened/
So what is stopping Snapchat from suing Instagram or parent company Facebook for "copying" their idea? To begin with, as Fast Company indicates, copyright law does not protect ideas. Kevin Systrom, the CEO of Instagram, even gave full credit to Snapchat for Instagram's Stories feature! WTF?!?! Again, comes the enhancement part, Instagram may have taken the idea from Snapchat but further developed it to their userbase. Legally there is no obstacle from doing this but is it ethical?
Fast Company: https://www.fastcompany.com/3062593/clone-wars-why-instagram-will-legally-get-away-with-copying-snapchat-stories
Let's say to you it is ethical because you don't even care as long as you can get to still share your hipster cafe shots. You are one of 600 million or so to express your opinion. I socially believe that companies should further innovate rather than "get inspired" from each other because that is not true competition. That is just playing dirty.
I am not a Snapchat user at all so Instagram's features benefit me but I still do not approve of the work Instagram is doing because I see no real progress.