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WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE

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Instagram
Instagram logo 2016.svg
Instagram logo.svg
Original author(s) Kevin Systrom, Mike Krieger (Burbn, Inc.)
Developer(s) Facebook
Initial release October 6, 2010; 6 years ago (2010-10-06)
Stable release(s) [±]
Android 10.30 / July 15, 2017; 2 months ago (2017-07-15)[1]
iOS 10.29 / July 10, 2017; 2 months ago (2017-07-10)[2]
Windows 10 10.915.27847.0 / September 14, 2017; 7 days ago (2017-09-14)[3]
Windows 10 Mobile 10.1096.22713.0 / September 14, 2017; 7 days ago (2017-09-14)[4]
Preview release(s) [±]
Android 16.0.0.5.90 / September 20, 2017; 1 day ago (2017-09-20)[5]
Development status Active
Operating system iOS, Android, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows 10
Size 61.9 MB (iOS)
Available in 33 languages[6]
Type Photo
License Freeware
Alexa rank Positive decrease 17 (Global, September 2017)[7]
Website instagram.com

Instagram is a mobile, desktop, and Internet-based 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 add hashtags to their posts, linking the photos up to other content on Instagram featuring the same subject or overall topic. Users can connect 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; this was changed in August 2015, when an update started allowing users to upload media at full size. In June 2012, an "Explore" tab was introduced, showing users a variety of media, including popular photos and photos taken at nearby locations, trending tags and places, channels for recommended videos, and curated content. 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. Private messaging, called Instagram Direct, was launched with basic photo-sharing functionality in December 2013, and has gradually received major updates incorporating more features, most notably text support and "disappearing" photos. In August 2016, Instagram introduced a "Stories" feature, letting users add photos to a story, with the content disappearing after 24 hours. Instagram added live-video functionality to Stories in November 2016, augmented reality stickers in April 2017, and face filters in May 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 700 million as of April 2017. Its users have uploaded over 40 billion photos to the service as of October 2015. As of April 2017, Instagram Direct has 375 million active users, while, as of June 2017, the Instagram Stories functionality has over 250 million active users. Instagram was acquired by Facebook in April 2012 for approximately US$1 billion in cash and stock. The popularity of Instagram has sparked an engaging community, including dedicated "trends", in which users post specific types of photos on specific days of the week with a hashtag representing a common theme. Instagram has received positive reviews for its iOS app, and it has been named "one of the most influential social networks in the world". However, the company has been the subject of criticism, most notably for policy and interface changes, allegations of censorship, and illegal or improper content uploaded by users.

History

The login and sign-up screen for the Instagram app on the iPhone as of April 2016

Instagram began development in San Francisco, when Kevin Systrom and Mike 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.[8][9] The word Instagram is a portmanteau of instant camera and telegram.[9]

On March 5, 2010, Systrom closed a $500,000 seed funding round with Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz while working on Burbn.[10] Josh Riedel joined the company in October as Community Manager,[11] Shayne Sweeney joined in November as an engineer,[11] and Jessica Zollman joined as a Community Evangelist in August 2011.[11][12]

Kevin Systrom posted the first photo to Instagram on July 16, 2010.[13][14] The photo shows a dog in Mexico and Systrom's girlfriend's foot; the photo has been enhanced using Instagram's X-PRO2 filter.[15]

On October 6, 2010, the Instagram iOS app was officially released through the App Store.[16][17]

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.[18] The deal valued Instagram at around $20 million.[19]

On April 3, 2012, Instagram was released for Android phones,[20][21] and it was downloaded more than one million times in less than one day.[22]

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,[23] details that were confirmed the following month, when Instagram raised $50 million from venture capitalists with a $500 million valuation.[24] The same month, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock,[25][26][27] with a plan to keep the company independently managed.[28][29][30] Britain's Office of Fair Trading approved the deal on August 14, 2012,[31] and on August 22, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. closed its investigation, allowing the deal to proceed.[32] On September 6, 2012, the deal between Instagram and Facebook was officially closed.[33]

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.[30] 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.[30] Mark Zuckerberg noted that Facebook was "committed to building and growing Instagram independently", in contrast to its past practices.[30] According to Wired, the deal netted Systrom $400 million based on his ownership stake in the business.[34] The exact purchase price was $300 million in cash and 23 million shares of stock.[35]

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.[36] In February 2013, the website was updated to offer a news feed,[37] and in June 2015, the website was redesigned to offer bigger photos.[38][39]

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,[40] after pressure from Nokia and the public to develop an app for the platform.[41][42] 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".[43][44] In April 2016, Instagram upgraded the app to Windows 10 Mobile, adding support for video and direct messages,[45] followed by later updates in October 2016 that extended the app to Windows 10 personal computers and tablets.[46][47]

The Android app has received two major exclusive updates. The first, introduced in March 2014, cut the size of the app by half and added significant improvements to performance and responsiveness on a wide variety of Android devices.[48][49] The Verge wrote that the development team had tested the app on devices not for sale in the United States, particularly low-end models like Samsung Galaxy Y, in an effort to improve the app for its userbase located outside the U.S. Engineering manager Philip McAllister told The Verge that "More than 60 percent of our users are outside the US, and Android covers roughly half of total Instagram users".[50] The second update, introduced in April 2017, added an offline mode, in which content previously loaded in the news feed is available without an Internet connection, and users can comment, like, save media, and unfollow users, all of which will take effect once the user goes back online. At the time of the announcement, it was reported that 80% of Instagram's 600 million users are located outside the U.S., and while the aforementioned functionality was live at announcement, Instagram also announced its intention to make more features available offline "in the following months", and that they were "exploring an iOS version".[51][52][53]

Since the app's launch it had used the Foursquare API technology to provide named location tagging. In March 2014, Instagram started testing switching the technology to using Facebook Places.[54][55]

Announced in March 2016 and taking place in June, Instagram switched from a strictly chronological oldest-to-newest news feed to a new, algorithm-based feed. The change received "widespread outcry" following Instagram's March announcement, but Instagram stated that the feature would help users discover lost posts, writing that "You may be surprised to learn that people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds. As Instagram has grown, it's become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don't see the posts you might care about the most. To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most."[56][57][58]

On May 11, 2016, Instagram revamped its design, adding a black-and-white theme for the app and a more abstract, "modern" and colorful icon.[59][60][61] Rumors of a redesign first started circulating in April, when The Verge received a screenshot from a tipster, but at the time, an Instagram spokesperson simply told the publication that "This is a design test only".[62]

Features and tools

An original photograph (left) is automatically cropped to a square by Instagram, and has a filter added at the selection of the user (right)

Users can upload photographs and short videos, follow other users' feeds,[63] and geotag images with the name of a location.[64] Users can connect their Instagram account to other social networking sites, enabling them to share uploaded photos to those sites.[65] In January 2011, Instagram introduced hashtags to help users discover both photos and each other.[66][67] 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.[68] In September 2011, a new version of the app included new and live filters, instant tilt–shift, high-resolution photographs, optional borders, one-click rotation, and an updated icon.[69][70] In August 2015, Instagram started allowing users to upload full-size landscape and portrait photos and videos onto the service, dropping the previous requirement of a square frame.[71][72][73] In September 2016, Instagram removed Photo Maps, which previously allowed users to see a map of their geotagged photos. An Instagram spokesperson stated that "Photo Map was not widely used, so we've decided to remove the feature and focus on other priorities".[74][75] In December 2016, Instagram introduced a feature letting users save photos for later viewing. Bookmarked posts get added to a private page in the app.[76][77] The feature was updated in April 2017 to let users organize saved posts into different collections.[78][79] In February 2017, Instagram announced that users would be able to upload up to ten pictures or videos to one post, with the content appearing as a swipeable carousel.[80][81] In May 2017, Instagram updated its mobile website to allow users to upload photos, and to add a "lightweight" version of the Explore tab.[82][83] Later in May, Instagram added an "Archive" feature, letting users hide posts in a private storage area, out of visibility for the public and other users. The move was seen as a way to prevent users from deleting photos that don't garner a desired amount of "likes" or are deemed boring, but also as a way to limit the "emergent behavior" of deleting photos, which deprives the service of content.[84][85]

Explore

In June 2012, Instagram introduced "Explore", a tab inside the app that displays popular photos, photos taken at nearby locations, and search.[86] The tab was updated in June 2015 to feature trending tags and places, curated content, and the ability to search for locations.[87] In April 2016, Instagram added a "Videos You Might Like" channel to the tab,[88][89] followed by an "Events" channel in August, featuring videos from concerts, sports games, and other live events,[90][91] followed by the addition of Instagram Stories in October.[92][93] The tab was later expanded again in November 2016 after Instagram Live launched to display an algorithmically-curated page of the "best" Instagram Live videos currently airing.[94] In May 2017, Instagram once again updated the Explore tab to promote public Stories content from nearby places.[95]

Photographic filters

A photo collage of an unprocessed image (top left) modified with the 16 different Instagram filters available in 2011

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.[96]
  • 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.[97]
  • Inkwell: Direct shift to black and white – no extra editing.
  • Kelvin: Increases saturation and temperature to give it a radiant "glow".[98]
  • 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[99]
  • 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.[100]
  • 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.[101][102]
  • 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.[103]
  • 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.[104]

In February 2012, Instagram added a "Lux" filter, an effect that "lightens shadows, darkens highlights and increases contrast".[105][106]

In December 2014, Slumber, Crema, Ludwig, Aden, and Perpetua were five new filters to be added to the Instagram filter family.[107]

Video

Initially a purely photo-sharing service, Instagram incorporated 15-second video sharing in June 2013.[108][109] The addition was seen by some in the technology media as Facebook's attempt at competing with then-popular video-sharing application Vine.[110][111] In August 2015, Instagram added support for widescreen videos.[112][113] In March 2016, Instagram increased the 15-second video limit to 60 seconds.[114][115] Multi-video posts were introduced in February 2017, allowing up to 10 minutes of video to be shared in one post.[80][81]

Instagram Direct

In December 2013, Instagram announced Instagram Direct, a feature that lets users interact through private messaging. Users who follow each other can send private messages with photos and videos, in contrast to the public-only requirement that was previously in place. When users receive a private message from someone they don't follow, the message is marked as pending and the user must accept to see it. Users can send a photo to a maximum of 15 people.[116][117][118] The feature received a major update in September 2015, adding conversation threading and making it possible for users to share locations, hashtag pages, and profiles through private messages directly from the news feed. Additionally, users can now reply to private messages with text, emoji or by clicking on a heart icon. A camera inside Direct lets users take a photo and send it to the recipient without leaving the conversation.[119][120][121] A new update in November 2016 let users make their private messages "disappear" after being viewed by the recipient, with the sender receiving a notification if the recipient takes a screenshot.[122][123] In April 2017, Instagram redesigned Direct to combine all private messages, both permanent and ephemeral, into the same message threads.[124][125][126] In May, Instagram made it possible to send website links in messages, and also added support for sending photos in their original portrait or landscape orientation without cropping.[127][128]

Instagram Stories

In August 2016, Instagram launched Instagram Stories, a feature that 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. The media noted the feature's similarities to Snapchat.[129][130] In November, Instagram added live video functionality to Instagram Stories, allowing users to broadcast themselves live, with the video disappearing immediately after ending.[131][94] In January 2017, Instagram launched skippable ads, where five-second photo and 15-second video ads appear in-between different stories.[132][133] In April 2017, Instagram Stories incorporated augmented reality stickers, a "clone" of Snapchat's functionality.[134][135][136] In May 2017, Instagram expanded the augmented reality sticker feature to support face filters, letting users add specific visual features onto their faces.[137][138] Later in May, TechCrunch reported about tests of a Location Stories feature in Instagram Stories, where public Stories content at a certain location are compiled and displayed on a business, landmark or place's Instagram page.[139] A few days later, Instagram announced "Story Search", in which users can search for geographic locations or hashtags and the app displays relevant public Stories content featuring the search term.[95][140] In June 2017, Instagram revised its live-video functionality to allow users to add their live broadcast to their story for availability in the next 24 hours, or discard the broadcast immediately.[141] In July, Instagram started allowing users to respond to Stories content by sending photos and videos, complete with Instagram effects such as filters, stickers, and hashtags.[142][143]

In response to criticism that it copied functionality from Snapchat, CEO Kevin Systrom told Recode that "Day One: Instagram was a combination of Hipstamatic, Twitter [and] some stuff from Facebook like the 'Like' button. You can trace the roots of every feature anyone has in their app, somewhere in the history of technology". Although Systrom acknowledged the criticism as "fair", Recode wrote that "he likened the two social apps' common features to the auto industry: Multiple car companies can coexist, with enough differences among them that they serve different consumer audiences". Systrom further stated that "When we adopted [Stories], we decided that one of the really annoying things about the format is that it just kept going and you couldn't pause it to look at something, you couldn't rewind. We did all that, we implemented that." He also told the publication that Snapchat "didn't have filters, originally. They adopted filters because Instagram had filters and a lot of others were trying to adopt filters as well."[144][145]

Monetization

Following Emily White's appointment to the position of Director of Business Operations in April 2013,[146][147] she stated in an interview with The Wall Street Journal 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.[148] White left Instagram, however, in December 2013, to join Snapchat.[149][150] In August 2014, James Quarles was hired as Instagram's Global Head of Business and Brand Development, a new position within the company focused on overseeing advertisement and sales efforts while developing new "monetization products", according to a spokesperson.[151]

In October 2013, Instagram began its monetization efforts, announcing that, "over the next couple of months", video and image ads would start appearing in between users' photos in the news feed for users in the United States.[152][153] A sample ad from Instagram, featuring the text "Sponsored" at the top right of the image, was the first to be released, with a limited number of brands being allowed to advertise in the early stages.[154][155] Image advertisements officially started appearing in feeds starting November 1, 2013,[156][157] followed by video ads on October 30, 2014.[158][159] In June 2014, Instagram announced the then-upcoming rollout of ads in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, planned for "later this year".[160] The same sample ad from Instagram's launch in the U.S. was shown to users in the United Kingdom in September 2014, with ads rolling out "over the coming weeks".[161]

In March 2015, it announced that it would allow advertisers to buy "carousel ads", a way for brands to upload up to five images that users can swipe through, with options at the end for additional content or a visit to the brand's website.[162][163] Following strong performance of the ad format, Instagram opened up a self-service feature for brands to buy carousel ads the following October,[164][165] and in March 2016, it started allowing video in carousel ads.[166]

In May 2016, Instagram announced the launch of new tools for business accounts, including new business profiles, Insights analytics and the ability to turn posts into ads directly from the Instagram app itself. However, to be eligible for the tools, businesses had to have a Facebook Page, with Quarles stating: "In doing that, it gives us the payment credentials, as well as if they want to prepopulate some of the information like their street address, the phone number, and the website".[167] The Instagram Insights panel, which lets businesses see their top posts, reach, impressions and engagement surrounding their posts as well as user demographics,[167] was rolled out first to the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, with the rest of the world "by the end of the year".[168][167][169]

In February 2016, Instagram announced that it had 200,000 advertisers on the platform.[170] This increased to 500,000 active advertisers in September 2016,[171] and one million in March 2017.[172][173]

Stand-alone apps

Instagram has developed and released three stand-alone apps with specialized functionality. In July 2014, it released Bolt, a messaging app where users click on a friend's profile photo to quickly send an image, with the content disappearing after being seen.[174][175] It was followed by the release of Hyperlapse in August, a then-iOS-exclusive app that uses "clever algorithm processing" to create tracking shots and fast time-lapse videos.[176][177] Hyperlapse launched on Android and Windows in May 2015.[178] In October 2015, it released Boomerang, a video app that combines photos into short, one-second videos that play back-and-forth in a loop.[179][180]

Third-party services

The popularity of Instagram has led to a variety of third-party services using its functionality and adopting it into formats not officially supported. Examples include services for getting an overview of user statistics, printing photos at social events, turning a large amount of photos into thumbnails for a physical book or a large poster, and dedicated apps for viewing Instagram on Mac personal computers.[181]

Popularity

The Instagram app, running on the Android operating system.

Users

Following the release in October, Instagram had one million registered users in December 2010.[182][183] In June 2011, it announced that it had 5 million users,[184] which increased to 10 million in September.[185][186] This growth continued to 30 million users in April 2012,[185][20] 80 million in July 2012,[187][188] 100 million in February 2013,[189][190] 130 million in June 2013,[191] 150 million in September 2013,[192][193] 300 million in December 2014,[194][195] 400 million in September 2015,[196][197] 500 million in June 2016,[198][199] 600 million in December 2016,[200][201] and 700 million as of April 2017.[202][203]

In October 2016, Instagram Stories reached 100 million active users, two months after launch.[204][205] This increased to 150 million in January 2017,[132][133] 200 million in April, surpassing Snapchat's user growth,[134][135][136] and 250 million active users in June 2017.[206][141]

In April 2017, Instagram Direct had 375 million monthly users.[124][125][126]

In June 2011, Instagram passed 100 million photos uploaded to the service.[207][208] This grew to 150 million in August 2011,[209][210] and by June 2013, there were over 16 billion photos on the service.[191] In October 2015, there existed over 40 billion photos.[211]

On August 9, 2012, English musician Ellie Goulding released a new music video for her song "Anything Could Happen." The video only contained fan-submitted Instagram photographs that used various filters to represent words or lyrics from the song, and over 1,200 different photographs were submitted.[212]

Instagram was listed among Time's "50 Best Android Applications for 2013" list.[213]

Instagram has 20 million users in Iran.[214][215]

Demographics

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.[216] 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.[217]

Trends

Users on Instagram have created "trends" through hashtags, which are specific keywords combined with a hash symbol that lets them share content with other Instagram users. The trends deemed the most popular on the platform often highlight a specific day of the week to post the material on. Examples of popular trends include #SelfieSunday, in which users post a photo of their faces on Sundays; #MotivationMonday, in which users post motivational photos on Mondays; #TransformationTuesday, in which users post photos highlighting differences from the past to the present; #WomanCrushWednesday, in which users post photos of women they have a romantic interest in or view favorably, as well as its #ManCrushMonday counterpart centered on men; and #ThrowbackThursday, in which users post a photo from their past, highlighting a particular moment.[218][219]

Controversy

Terms of Service policy change

On December 17, 2012, Instagram announced a change to its Terms of Service policy, adding the following sentence:[220]

There was no option for users to opt out of the changed Terms of Service without deleting their accounts before the new policy went into effect on January 16, 2013.[221] The move garnered severe criticism from users,[222][223][224] prompting Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom to write a blog post one day later, announcing that they would "remove" the offending language from the policy. Citing misinterpretations about its intention to "communicate that we'd like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram", Systrom also stated that it was "our mistake that this language is confusing" and that "it is not our intention to sell your photos". Furthermore, he wrote that they would work on "updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear".[225][222]

The policy change and its backlash caused competing photo services to use the opportunity to "try to lure users away" by advertising their privacy-friendly services,[226] and some services experienced substantial gains in momentum and user growth following the news.[227] On December 20, Instagram announced that the advertising section of the policy would be reverted to its original October 2010 version.[223][228] The Verge wrote about that policy as well, however, noting that the original policy gives the company right to "place such advertising and promotions on the Instagram Services or on, about, or in conjunction with your Content", meaning that "Instagram has always had the right to use your photos in ads, almost any way it wants. We could have had the exact same freakout last week, or a year ago, or the day Instagram launched".[220]

The policy update also introduced an arbitration clause, which remained even after the language pertaining to advertising and user content had been modified.[229]

Illicit drugs

Instagram has been the subject of criticism due to users publishing images of drugs they are selling on the platform. In 2013, the BBC discovered that users, mostly located in the United States, were posting images of drugs they were selling, attaching specific hashtags, and then completing transactions via instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp. Corresponding hashtags have been blocked as part of the company's response and a spokesperson engaged with the BBC explained:[230][231]

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.

However, new incidents of illegal drug trade have occurred in the aftermath of the 2013 revelation, with Facebook, Instagram's parent company, asking users who come across such content to report the material, at which time a "dedicated team" reviews the information.[232]

Allegations of censorship

In October 2013, Instagram deleted the account of Canadian photographer Petra Collins after she posted a photo of herself in which a very small area of pubic hair was visible above the top of her bikini bottom. Collins claimed that the account deletion was unfounded because it did not break any of Instagram's terms and conditions.[233] Audra Schroeder of The Daily Dot further wrote that "Instagram's terms of use state users can't post "pornographic or sexually suggestive photos," but who actually gets to decide that? You can indeed find more sexually suggestive photos on the site than Collins', where women show the side of "femininity" the world is "used to" seeing and accepting."[234] Nick Drewe of The Daily Beast wrote a report the same month focusing on hashtags that users are unable to search for, including #sex, #bubblebutt, and #ballsack, despite allowing #faketits, #gunsforsale and #sexytimes, calling the discrepancy "nonsensical and inconsistent".[235]

Similar incidents occurred in January 2015, when Instagram deleted Australian fashion agency Sticks and Stones Agency's account because of a photograph including pubic hair sticking out of bikini bottoms,[236] and March 2015, when artist and poet Rupi Kaur's photos of menstrual blood on clothing were removed, prompting a rallying post on her Facebook and Tumblr accounts with the text "We will not be censored", gaining over 11,000 shares.[237]

The incidents have led to a #FreetheNipple campaign, aimed at challenging Instagram's removal of photos displaying women's nipples. Although Instagram has not made many comments on the campaign,[238] an October 2015 explanation from CEO Kevin Systrom highlighted Apple's content guidelines for apps published through its App Store, including Instagram, in which apps must designate the appropriate age ranking for users, with the app's current rating being 12+ years of age. However, this statement has also been called into question due to other apps with more explicit content allowed on the store, the lack of consequences for men exposing their bodies on Instagram, and for inconsistent treatment of what constitutes inappropriate exposure of the female body.[239][240]

Hidden pornography

In March 2016, Daily Star reported that a blogger had discovered "one million" explicit pornography films on Instagram. Users uploading such content, which violates Instagram's community guidelines, avoid detection by using Arabic hashtags.[241] A company spokesperson told The Sun that "We have zero tolerance for pornographic content. We invest in extensive controls, easy reporting and the best available technology to flag and swiftly remove violating content and accounts."[242]

Timeline algorithm

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.[243] Instagram said the algorithm was designed so that users would see more of the photos by users that they liked,[57] but there was significant negative feedback, with many users asking their followers to turn on post notifications in order to make sure they see updates.[244][245][246] The company wrote a tweet to users upset at the prospect of the change, but did not back down,[247] nor provide a way to change it back.[248]

Negative comments

In response to abusive and negative comments on users' photos, Instagram has made efforts to give users more control over their posts and accompanying comments field. In July 2016, it announced that users would be able to turn off comments for their posts, as well as control the language used in comments by inputting words they consider offensive, which will ban applicable comments from showing up.[249][250] After the July 2016 announcement, the ability to ban specific words began rolling out early August to celebrities,[251] followed by regular users in September.[252] In December, the company began rolling out the abilities for users to turn off the comments and, for private accounts, remove followers.[253][254] In June 2017, Instagram announced an artificial intelligence system capable of scanning words in context to detect, and remove, abusive comments.[255][256]

Mental health

In May 2017, a survey conducted by United Kingdom's Royal Society for Public Health, featuring 1,479 people aged 14–24, asking them to rate social media platforms depending on anxiety, depression, loneliness, bullying and body image, concluded that Instagram was "worst for young mental health". In response, Instagram stated that "Keeping Instagram a safe and supportive place for young people was a top priority".[257][258]

"Shadowban"

In mid-2017, reports surfaced that Instagram had begun efforts to reduce the prominence of accounts using many irrelevant hashtags to increase their respective reach on the social network and users who pay money to a service in order to receive a high amount of post engagement. Known as "shadowbanning", the effort hides applicable accounts from appearing in search results and in the app's Explore section. In a now-deleted Facebook post, Instagram wrote that "When developing content, we recommend focusing on your business objective or goal rather than hashtags".[259][260]

Awards

Instagram was the runner-up for "Best Mobile App" at the 2010 TechCrunch Crunchies in January 2011.[261] In May 2011, Fast Company listed CEO Kevin Systrom at number 66 in "The 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2011".[262] In June 2011, Inc. included co-founders Systrom and Krieger in its 2011 "30 Under 30" list.[263]

Instagram won "Best Locally Made App" in the SF Weekly Web Awards in September 2011.[264] 7x7Magazine's September 2011 issue featured Systrom and Krieger on the cover of their "The Hot 20 2011" issue.[265] In December 2011, Apple Inc. named Instagram the "App of the Year" for 2011.[266] In 2015, Instagram was named No. 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."[267]

See also

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