|Original author(s)||Kevin Systrom, Mike Krieger (Burbn, Inc.)|
|Initial release||October 6, 2010|
|Operating system||iOS, Android, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows 10|
|Available in||33 languages|
|Alexa rank||18 (Global, April 2017[update])|
Instagram is a mobile photo-sharing application and service that allows users to share pictures and videos either publicly or privately. It was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, and launched in October 2010 as a free mobile app exclusively for the iOS operating system. A version for Android devices was released two years later, in April 2012, followed by a feature-limited website interface in November 2012, and apps for Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 in April 2016 and October 2016 respectively.
Instagram lets registered users upload photos or videos to the service. Users can apply various digital filters to their images, and add locations through geotags. They can link their Instagram account to other social media profiles, enabling them to share photos to those profiles as well. Originally, a distinctive feature of Instagram was its confining of photos to a square, similar to Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid SX-70 images. This was changed in August 2015, when an update started allowing users to upload media at full size. Support for videos was originally launched in June 2013, and had a 15-second maximum duration and limited quality, with Instagram later adding support for widescreen and longer videos. In August 2016, Instagram introduced a "Stories" feature, letting users add photos to a story, with the content disappearing after 24 hours. The move was seen as a direct copy of Snapchat, and Instagram added live-video functionality to Stories in November 2016, and augmented reality stickers in April 2017.
After its launch in 2010, Instagram rapidly gained popularity, with one million registered users in two months, 10 million in a year, and ultimately at 600 million in December 2016. The service was acquired by Facebook in April 2012 for approximately US$1 billion in cash and stock. As of April 2017[update], the Instagram Stories functionality has over 200 million active users, surpassing the user growth of Snapchat.
Instagram began development in San Francisco, when Systrom and Brazilian Krieger chose to focus their multi-featured HTML5 check-in project, Burbn, on mobile photography. As Krieger reasoned, Burbn became too similar to Foursquare, and both realized that it had gone too far. Burbn was then pivoted to become more focused on photo-sharing. The word Instagram is a portmanteau of instant camera and telegram.
On March 5, 2010, Systrom closed a $500,000 seed funding round with Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz while working on Burbn. Josh Riedel joined the company in October as Community Manager, Shayne Sweeney joined in November as an engineer, and Jessica Zollman joined as a Community Evangelist in August 2011.
In January 2011, Instagram added hashtags to help users discover both photographs and each other. Instagram encourages users to make tags both specific and relevant, rather than tagging generic words like "photo", to make photographs stand out and to attract like-minded Instagram users. In September, version 2.0 of the app went live in the App Store and included new and live filters, instant tilt–shift, high-resolution photographs, optional borders, one-click rotation, and an updated icon.
In February 2011, it was reported that Instagram had raised $7 million in Series A funding from a variety of investors, including Benchmark Capital, Jack Dorsey, Chris Sacca (through Capital fund), and Adam D'Angelo. The deal valued Instagram at around $20 million.
In March 2012, The Wall Street Journal reported that Instagram was raising a new round of financing that would value the company at $500 million, details that were confirmed the following month, when Instagram raised $50 million from venture capitalists with a $500 million valuation. The same month, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock, with a plan to keep the company independently managed. Britain's Office of Fair Trading approved the deal on August 14, 2012, and on August 22, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. closed its investigation, allowing the deal to proceed. On September 6, 2012, the deal between Instagram and Facebook was officially closed.
The deal, which was made just prior to Facebook's scheduled IPO, cost about a quarter of Facebook's cash-on-hand, according to figures documented at the end of 2011. The deal was for a company characterized as having "lots of buzz but no business model", and the price was contrasted with the $35 million Yahoo! paid for Flickr in 2005. Mark Zuckerberg noted that Facebook was "committed to building and growing Instagram independently", in contrast to its past practices. According to Wired, the deal netted Systrom $400 million based on his ownership stake in the business. The exact purchase price was $300 million in cash and 23 million shares of stock.
In November 2012, Instagram launched website profiles, allowing anyone to see users' feeds from their web browsers. However, the website interface was limited in functionality, with notable omissions including the lack of a search bar, a news feed, and the ability to upload photos. In February 2013, the website was updated to offer a news feed, and in June 2015, the website was redesigned to offer bigger photos.
On December 17, 2012, Instagram updated its Terms of Service, granting itself the right—starting on January 16, 2013—to sell users' photos to third parties without notification or compensation. The criticism from privacy advocates, consumers, the National Geographic Society, and celebrities like Kim Kardashian prompted Instagram to issue a statement retracting the controversial terms; regardless, the issue resulted in the loss of a portion of Instagram's user-base, as former users switched to other photo-sharing services, which reported an increase in usage.
In January 2013, it was confirmed that Instagram had asked for photo identification as a form of verification due to unspecified violations.
Following Emily White's appointment to the position of chief operating officer in March 2013, she stated in September 2013 that the company should be ready to begin selling advertising by September 2014 as a way to generate business from a popular entity that had not yet created profit for its parent company. In September 2013, Instagram reaffirmed its commitment to free and open access to its smart-phone app for users. During an interview with Women's Wear Daily (WWD), White cited "the sophistication of cameras on smartphones as one reason for ushering in the transformative change", and she used her observation of the replacement of large cameras with mobile smartphones during a fashion show as an example. On October 3, 2013, Instagram announced that it would be adding advertising to its platform.
On October 22, 2013, during the Nokia World event held in Abu Dhabi, Systrom confirmed the upcoming release of the official Instagram app for Windows Phone, after pressure from Nokia and the public to develop an app for the platform. The app was released as a beta version on November 21, 2013, and was lacking the ability to record and upload video, though an Instagram spokesperson stated that "We're not finished, and our team will continue developing the Windows Phone app to keep releasing features and bringing you the best Instagram possible". In April 2016, Instagram upgraded the app to Windows 10 Mobile, adding support for video and direct messages, followed by later updates in October 2016 that extended the app to Windows 10 personal computers and tablets.
On December 12, 2013, Instagram added Direct, a feature that allows users to send photos to specific people directly from the app. Instagram's primary intention with the Direct feature is to compete against messaging services, including Snapchat.
On March 11, 2014, Instagram released an updated Android app with performance improvements and a flatter interface. The update was primarily intended to reduce the app's file size and resource usage, and it was optimized for and tested on low-end smartphones sold in emerging markets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Y, which was popular in Brazil at the time.
The company's Global Head of Business and Brand Development—a new position for Instagram—was announced in mid-August 2014. Facebook's former Regional Director James Quarles was assigned the role, which manages Instagram’s revenue strategy, in addition to both the marketing and sales teams. Quarles will report directly to Systrom during a tenure in which he will develop new “monetization products”, as explained by a company representative to the media.
On October 22, 2015, Instagram launched Boomerang, an app where you shoot a one-second burst of five photos that are turned into a silent video that plays forwards and then reverses in a loop.
During April 2016, Instagram began changing the strictly chronological timeline view to one driven by an algorithm reminiscent of Facebook's.
On May 11, 2016, Instagram updated its app design with thinner icons and a pinker, more abstract logo.
In September 2016, Instagram removed the Photo Maps feature from its mobile apps, claiming that the feature was not widely used on the platform.
On October 13, 2016, Instagram launched a desktop client for the first time on the Windows 10 platform, which can be downloaded via the Windows Store.
On November 21, 2016, Instagram launched live video, which allows users to broadcast live on Instagram, for up to one hour. Live videos on Instagram are not preserved, and are removed from the service once a user is done broadcasting. Instagram also launched disappearing photos and videos for the Instagram Direct feature on the same day, and images and videos sent using this method disappear after a certain amount of time.
On February 22, 2017, Instagram released a new feature that enables users to post up to ten pictures or videos in the same post. Users will be able to view other's posts by swiping left to reveal the other photos or videos.
Following the release in October, Instagram had one million registered users in December 2010. In June 2011, it announced that it had 5 million users, which increased to 10 million in September. This growth continued to 30 million users in April 2012, 80 million in July 2012, 100 million in February 2013, 150 million in September 2013, 300 million in December 2014, 400 million in September 2015, 500 million in June 2016, and 600 million in December 2016.
Instagram announced that 100 million photographs had been uploaded to its service as of July 2011. This total reached 150 million in August 2011. By May 2012, 58 photographs were being uploaded and a new user was being gained each second. The total number of photographs uploaded had exceeded one billion.
There are also proprietary rights in content on Instagram. Instagram does not claim any ownership rights in the text, files, images, photographs, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, applications, or any other materials (collectively, content) that users post on or through the Instagram Services.
On August 9, 2012, English musician Ellie Goulding came out with a new music video for her song "Anything Could Happen." The video only contained fan submitted Instagram photographs that used various Instagram filters to represent words or lyrics from the song and over 1,200 different photographs were submitted.
Many celebrities have profiles on Instagram, sharing photos and videos of their personal and professional lives with fans. Some celebrities deleted their accounts in response to Instagram's proposed change to its Terms of Service, which would have allowed the photo-sharing app to sell images to advertisers without compensation to users.
It was proven in a survey completed by 212 Instagram users that social interaction, archiving, self-expression, escapism and peeking are the five main motives of Instagram users.
Instagram's users are divided equally with 50% iPhone owners and 50% Android owners. While Instagram has a neutral gender-bias format, 68% of Instagram users are female while 32% are male. Instagram's geographical use is shown to favor urban areas as 17% of US adults who live in urban areas use instagram while only 11% of adults in suburban and rural areas do so. While Instagram may appear to be one of the most widely used sites for photo sharing, only 7% of daily photo uploads, among the top four photo-sharing platforms, come from Instagram. Instagram has been proven to attract the younger generation with 90% of the 150 million users under the age of 35. From June 2012 to June 2013, Instagram approximately doubled their number of users. As regards income, 15% of US internet users who make less than $30,000 per year use Instagram, while 14% of those making $30,000 to $50,000, and 12% of users who make more than $50,000 per year do so. With respect to the education demographic, respondents with some college education proved to be the most active on Instagram with 23%. Following behind, college graduates consist of 18% and users with a high school diploma or less make up 15%. Among these Instagram users, 24% say they use the app several times a day.
Weekend Hashtag Project
The "Weekend Hashtag Project" is a series featuring designated themes and hashtags chosen by Instagram's Community Team. Followers receive the weekend's project every Friday, and each project encourages participants to post creative photographs according to the designated theme each weekend.
Woman Crush Wednesday and Man Crush Monday
Woman Crush Wednesday is a trend on Instagram that allows users to share pictures of woman that they find appealing or have respect for by using the hashtag #WCW. This event occurs on Wednesday because that is what one of the W’s represents and is wide spread throughout all social media platforms that enable one to post images such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Similarly, #MCM is used on Mondays for "Man Crush Monday".
Throwback Thursday is a widely used trend on Instagram where users post pictures from the past with the hashtag #TBT. This trend usually includes pictures of users' early childhood, past special occasions, or monumental events. This popular trend started in 2011 shortly after Instagram introduced the capabilities of hashtags on pictures. However, according to Google trends throwback Thursday’s popularity didn’t spike until February 2012. This trend has reached popularity through celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Molly Sims.
Selfie, a self-portrait photograph typically taken with a cell phone or digital camera, has become a trending topic on Instagram becoming the “word of the year” as announced by Oxford English Dictionary in November 2013. Selfies attract a wide range of viewers as seen by the second most-liked picture on instagram from Justin Bieber’s instagram account. Bieber’s selfie with Selena Gomez acquired 1.82 million likes. This trend has sparked interest within the music industry as well with the debut of the song "Selfie" by The Chainsmokers in January 2014.
Finstagram is a portmanteau of the words fake and Instagram. Usually, the account is meant to be a more private depiction of the user. Finstagrams are commonly used by teens as a way to escape the pressures of expectations from their main account.
Features and tools
Users can upload photographs and short videos, follow other users' feeds, and geotag images with the name of a location. Users can connect their Instagram account to other social networking sites, enabling them to share uploaded photos to those sites.
In December 2013, Instagram added a feature named Instagram Direct that allows users to send photos only to a specific user or group of users, rather than having it be viewable by all. This was viewed as a response to the popularity of services like Snapchat.
On October 29, 2015, Instagram announced that it would allow advertisers to buy carousel ads to expose company brands to more people.
On May 31, 2016, Instagram announced the launch of new tools for business accounts, including new business profiles, analytics and the ability to turn Instagram posts into ads directly from the Instagram app itself. New business dashboard tools, named Instagram Insights, which includes business profiles and promotion options. Instagram Insights will first roll out in US, Australia and New Zealand then be available in all regions globally by the end of 2016.
On August 18, 2016, Instagram announced to launch a new feature called Instagram Events video channel on its Explore page that uses an algorithm to curate user-generated videos from major events.
The new explore tab was introduced in mid-2012 in which 21 photos are featured when a user clicks the tab second from the left on the bottom bar of the Instagram app. The photos must be of a public user whose profile is not set to private. This section of Instagram is where users can search for specific users or particular hashtags that interest them.
Instagram offers a number of photographic filters that users can apply to their images:
- Normal: No filter applied
- 1977: The increased exposure with a red tint gives the photograph a rosy, brighter, faded look.
- Amaro: Adds light to an image, with the focus on the centre.
- Brannan: Increases contrast and exposure and adds a metallic tint.
- Earlybird: Gives photographs an older look with a sepia tint and warm temperature.
- Hefe: High contrast and saturation, with a similar effect to Lo-Fi but not quite as dramatic.
- Hudson: Creates an "icy" illusion with heightened shadows, cool tint and dodged center.
- Inkwell: Direct shift to black and white – no extra editing.
- Kelvin: Increases saturation and temperature to give it a radiant "glow".
- Lo-fi: Enriches color and adds strong shadows through the use of saturation and "warming" the temperature.
- Mayfair: Applies a warm pink tone, subtle vignetting to brighten the photograph center and a thin black border
- Nashville: Warms the temperature, lowers contrast and increases exposure to give a light "pink" tint – making it feel "nostalgic".
- Rise: Adds a "glow" to the image, with softer lighting of the subject.
- Sierra: Gives a faded, softer look.
- Sutro: Burns photo edges, increases highlights and shadows dramatically with a focus on purple and brown colors.
- Toaster: Ages the image by "burning" the centre and adds a dramatic vignette.
- Valencia: Fades the image by increasing exposure and warming the colors, to give it an antique feel
- Walden: Increases exposure and adds a yellow tint.
- Willow: A monochromatic filter with subtle purple tones and a translucent white border.
- X-Pro II: Increases color vibrancy with a golden tint, high contrast and slight vignette added to the edges.
- Slumber: Desaturates the image as well as adds haze for a retro, dreamy look – with an emphasis on blacks and blues.
- Cream: Adds a creamy look that both warms and cools the image.
- Ludwig: A slight hint of desaturation that also enhances light.
- Aden: This filter gives a blue/green natural look.
- Perpetua: Adding a pastel look, this filter is ideal for portraits.
- Clarendon: Intensifies shadows and brightens highlights. Originally released as a video-only filter.
- Gingham: Washes photos out. Gives a yellowish tone when used on dark photos or a brighter, dreamy look when used on light photos.
- Moon: Black and white version of Gingham, with slightly more intense shadows.
- Stinson: Subtle filter that brightens an image, washing out the colors slightly
- Crema: Vintage filter that desaturates images. Smooths and washes out skin tones.
- Lark: Desaturates reds while punching up blues and greens – brings landscapes to life.
- Reyes: Gives photos a dusty, vintage look.
- Juno: Tints cool tones green, makes warm tones pop and whites glow – for vibrant photos of people.
In December 2014, Slumber, Crema, Ludwig, Aden, and Perpetua were five new filters to be added to the Instagram filter family.
Another feature, the Lux effect, allows one to quickly adjust the exposure and contrast through a simple 100-point slider. This editing tool allows the user to control the brightness to the saturation levels of each photograph.
Initially a purely photo-sharing service, Instagram incorporated video sharing in June 2013. The addition was seen by some in the technology media as Facebook's attempt at competing with then-popular video-sharing applications such as Mobli and Vine, both which would later announce plans to shut down, although Vine will continue with limited functionality.
During its launch in June 2013, videos were limited to 15 seconds maximum and a 640x640 fixed resolution. Support for widescreen video at 360p is available since August 2015. In March 2016, Instagram increased the 15-second video limit to 60 seconds. Multi-video posts were introduced in February 2017, allowing up to 10 minutes of video to be shared in one post.
In August 2016, Instagram launched Instagram Stories, a Snapchat-like feature which allows users to take photos, add effects and layers, and add them to their Instagram story. Images uploaded to a user's story expire after 24 hours. In November, Instagram added live video functionality to Instagram Stories, allowing users to broadcast themselves live, with the video disappearing immediately after ending. In January 2017, Instagram Stories reached 150 million active users, and Instagram launched skippable ads, where five-second photo and 15-second video ads appear inbetween different stories. In April 2017, the Instagram Stories feature had 200 million users, surpassing Snapchat's user growth, and incorporated augmented reality stickers, a "clone" of Snapchat's functionality.
On December 12, 2013 at the press event in New York, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom announced the introduction of private photo and video sharing feature called Instagram Direct. In September 2015, Instagram Direct received a major update, adding new features such as instant messaging, adding more than one user & sharing more than one photos in a single conversation, and sharing post & profiles from feeds directly to the user.
Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we'd like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.
The company acted quickly in response to a 2013 BBC investigation into Instagram's role in illicit drugs sales. The BBC discovered that users, mostly located in the US, were posting images of drugs they were selling and then completing transactions via instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp Messenger. Corresponding hashtags have been blocked as part of the company's response and a spokesperson engaged with the BBC, explaining:
Instagram has a clear set of rules about what is and isn't allowed on the site. We encourage people who come across illegal or inappropriate content to report it to us using the built-in reporting tools next to every photo, video or comment, so we can take action. People can't buy things on Instagram, we are simply a place where people share photos and videos.
Allegations of censorship
In October 2013, Instagram deleted the account of Canadian photographer Petra Collins after she posted a photo of herself in which pubic hair was visible beneath her bikini bottom, Collins claims the account deletion was unfounded because it did not break any of Instagram's terms and conditions.
In January 2015, in a similar incident to Collins's, Instagram deleted Australian Photography and Fashion Agency Sticks and Stones Agency's Instagram account because of a photograph including pubic hair sticking out of bikini bottoms.
Instagram has also been criticized for censoring women's bodies, but not men's, particularly through the Free the Nipple Campaign.
In March 2016, The Daily Star reported 'one million' explicit porn films found on Instagram. The videos were unearthed by tech blogger Jed Ismael, who says he's discovered over one million porn films on the site.
In April 2016, Instagram began rolling out a change to the order of photos visible in a user's timeline, shifting from a strictly chronological order to one determined by an algorithm. Instagram said the algorithm was designed so that users would see more of the photos by users that they liked, but there was considerable negative feedback. Instagram had responded a month earlier to users upset at the prospect of the change, but did not back down, nor provide a way to turn it off.
On May 11, 2016, Instagram updated to 8.0, changing the interface theme to a whiter theme, along with the app icon to a theme similar to one as an option for Microsoft PowerPoint. This generated negative feedback from many people.
Related products and services
- Boomerang is an app that allows users to shoot a short video that loops back and forth infinitely. Users can post directly to Instagram or Facebook from the app, or share through email or texting.
- Carousel, for Macs, is an app that provides a live feed of Instagram on the Mac.
- Hyperlapse is an app that allows users to create digitally stabilized time-lapse videos.
- 100 Cameras in 1 is an app available for iPhone users that provides additional effects for photos uploaded to Instagram.
- 6tag is an official alternate client Instagram for Windows Phone developed by Rudy Huyn. Often the app is considered better than the official, it has constant updates.
- iGrann is an unofficial alternate Instagram client for BlackBerry 10 developed by Adrian Sacchi.
- Inst10 is an unofficial alternate Instagram client for BlackBerry 10 developed by Nemory Studios.
- Iconosquare is a free app that provides personal statistics related to Instagram, including number of followers, likes, and comments, along with usage statistics.
- Instamap is an app available for iPad that allows users of Instagram to find photos based on their location or a hashtag. Results can be displayed in a gallery or linked to a map.
- Printing – Instaprint offers a device which can be rented for social gatherings that allows users to print photographs on Instagram. Printsgram allows a user's Instagram collection to be printed as a poster or stickers. Printic is an app which allows users to print and share Instagram pictures from an iPhone. Pictures come in a vintage 3×4 inches (7.62×10.16 cm) format, with an orange envelope and a message for the recipient.
Instagram was the runner-up for "Best Mobile App" at the 2010 TechCrunch Crunchies in January 2011. In May 2011, Fast Company listed CEO Kevin Systrom at number 66 in the "The 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2011". In June 2011, Inc. included co-founders Systrom and Krieger in its 2011 "30 Under 30" list.
Instagram won "Best Locally Made App" in the SF Weekly Web Awards in September 2011. 7x7Magazine's September 2011 issue featured Systrom and Krieger on the cover of their “The Hot 20 2011” issue. In December 2011, Apple Inc. named Instagram the "App of the Year" for 2011. In 2015, Instagram was named #1 by Mashable on its list of "The 100 best iPhone apps of all time," noting Instagram as "one of the most influential social networks in the world." 
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