Instagram is a free photograph editing and social media platform initially designed for Apple's iPhone products. After a successful launch in October 2010, the app was quickly purchased by Facebook in April 2012 for approximately $300 million in cash and 23 million shares in Facebook stock.
Instagram was founded by entrepreneurs Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who earned $50,000 in seed funding for the iPhone app in March 2010. Systrom, known by his handle on the site Kevin, uploaded the first photo to the service on July 17th, 2010, while it was still referred to as "Codename." The photo showed his girlfriend's foot in a flip-flop and a dog they spotted at Chilako Tacos while in Mexico.
The app officially launched in the iTunes Store on October 6th, 2010 after eight weeks of development. In a corresponding blog post, the company stated that they wanted to make mobile photos look beautiful, enable simple sharing options and create a fast uploading and viewing environment. By December 21st, the community had surpassed 1 million members. On July 26th, 2012, Instagram announced that they had officially passed 80 million users and 4 billion photos. A Quora page continues to keep track of usership milestones. As of August 2012, Instagram has a five star rating on the iTunes store from 704,407 ratings.
After being exclusively available to the iPhone store for a year and a half, an Android version of Instagram was released on April 3rd, 2012. On the day of the release, the company revealed there were more than 430,000 Android users on the waiting list. On this date, prior to the release, Instagram had more than 30 million registered users, 5 million photos uploaded per day, 575 likes on photos per second and 81 comments per second. As of July 2012, the Android version of Instagram has been installed more than 50 million times. It has a four and a half star rating from 1,328,206 reviews.
On April 9th, 2012, Facebook announced that it had inked a deal with Instagram to buy the site for $1 billion. That day, both Kevin Systrom and Mark Zuckerberg published blog posts announcing the deal, noting that the Instagram service would not be completely integrated with Facebook and users could still elect not to share their photos on the social networking site if they did not want to. The deal was covered by the New York Times, Techcrunch, GigaOm, the Huffington Post, Mashable and Forbes
Approximately a month and a half after the sale, on May 24th, Facebook released Facebook Camera for the iPhone. This app not only lets users easily scroll through their friends' Facebook photos, but utilizes similar filters and cropping tools to Instagram. The release was covered by the New York Times, PC World, ZD Net, CNN, TIME, TechCrunch and Wired. While download statistics are unavailable, the app only has 1732 ratings in the iTunes store.
Twitter API Revoked
With an update on July 26th, Instagram users noticed that the "Find Friends on Twitter" section of the app was removed. Twitter chose to revoke Instagram's access to their API, which was confirmed by Twitter spokesperson Carolyn Penner who said "there's great value associated with Twitter's follow graph data, and we can confirm that it is no longer available within Instagram."
On June 20th, 2018, Instagram announced the release of IGTV, a video-streaming application for iOS and Android. Unlike Instagram, IGTV allows users to upload videos up to one hour in length, as oppose to Instagram's one-minute maximum. However, while everyone will be allowed to upload hour-long videos, in time, users will be allowed to upload longer videos, as well.  IGTV is available on the Instagram app, as well as a stand-alone IGTV application.
At the announcement, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said, "It’s time for video to move forward, and evolve," s IGTV is for watching long-from videos from your favorite creators."
Available the day of the announcement. the platform is still ad-free until it is a sustainable enough to monetize.
Co-Founders Step Down
On September 24th, 2018, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger announced that they would be stepping down from the company. In a statement, Systrom wrote:
Mike and I are grateful for the last eight years at Instagram and six years with the Facebook team. We’ve grown from 13 people to over a thousand with offices around the world, all while building products used and loved by a community of over one billion. We’re now ready for our next chapter.
We’re planning on leaving Instagram to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do.
That day, Systrom posted a photograph of the two founder with the Instagram team, along with the statement. The post received more than 68,000 likes in 24 hours.
In a statement, Facebook founder and CEO wrote, "Kevin and Mike are extraordinary product leaders and Instagram reflects their combined creative talents. I’ve learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it."
Photos taken with Instagram are automatically cropped into square dimension, inspired by Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid cameras. Users can add a filter to the photo with the option of adding a tilt shift effect to the picture. On January 27th, 2011, hashtags were implemented in the photo comments, which work similar to the ones on Twitter, collecting thematically related photos together. As of July 2012, the app has sixteen colored filters to choose from, each meant to give the photo a different sense of mood. In April 2012, the Atlantic provided a breakdown of each filter.
X-Pro II: Warm, saturated tones with an emphasis on aquas and greens.
Earlybird: Faded, blurred colors, with an emphasis on yellow and beige.
Lomo-fi: Dreamy, ever-so-slightly blurry, with saturated yellows and greens, inspired by Lomography.
Sutro: Sepia-like, with an emphasis on purples and browns.
Toaster: High exposure, with corner vignetting.
Brannan: Low-key, with an emphasis on grays and greens.
Valencia: True-to-life contrast, with slightly gray and brown overtones.
Inkwell: Black-and-white, high-contrast.
Walden: Washed-out color with bluish overtones.
Hefe: Fuzziness, with an emphasis on yellow and golden tones.
Nashville: Sharp images with a magenta-meets-purple tint, framed by a distinctive film-strip-esque border.
1977: Gloria Gaynor-level '70s flair.
Lord Kelvin: Super-saturated, supremely retro photos with a distinctive scratchy border.
Willow: Black-and-white, with subtle purple tones and a translucent glowing white border.
On August 16th, 2012, Instagram released an updated version of the app for iOS and Android that included a photo-mapping feature to display the location of photographs on a map. On the following day, the Internet news blog The Daily Dot published an article about the new feature, which reported that some users were complaining that the photo map raised privacy concerns and that the app was using a Foursquare API for the geotagging feature.
On June 20th, 2013, after several days of rumors in the news, Instagram held a press conference to announce the launch of a video sharing feature within the app. With version 4.0 of the app, users can record up to 15 seconds of video, with the ability to choose one of 13 brand new filters for their recordings. Discussion of the Instagram update took place across a number of tech blogs and news sites including The Verge, ABC News, Mashable and TechCrunch, while NPR and Gizmodo weighed the pros and cons of the new service.
In the hours prior to the press conference, Twitter-owned video sharing app and direct competitor Vine announced several upcoming features through a series of teaser Vines on the Twitter accounts of its co-founders, Dom Hofmann and Rus Yusupov. These features include private messaging, the ability to save drafts and a new user interface.
On May 2nd, 2018, at Facebook's F8 developer conference, Mark Zuckerberg announced that video chat would be coming to Instagram. The feature would also allow for picture-in-picture capability, allowing users to browse the app while chatting.
Photo and Video Carousel
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 swipe-able carousel. This feature opened up possibilities for the user. With this feature, Instagram users have combined aesthetic accounts with meme accounts. On January 24th, 2019, Taylor Lorenz dubbed these accounts Meme-and-Theme accounts. They feature a theme, usually a color scheme of aesthetically appealing images, and use those images as the first photo in each carousel. Then when swiping each carousel, one can find a number of memes that don't necessarily match the theme. This enables users to express their preferred aesthetic and share entertaining memes that might not match their visual aesthetic. The first Meme-and-Theme account is unknown but there are currently numerous accounts on Instagram that fit this description. On March 5th, 2018, technicolourkid posted their first carousel of 893 on a Meme-and-Theme account (see sample theme below). The account has grown to have 1,673 followers within a year.
On September 23rd, 2018, GucciToddler created an Meme-and-Theme account that has gained 817 followers in four months (see sample theme below).
Instagram Reels is a video sharing feature on Instagram that was first launched in Brazil in November 2019 and then launced in 50 countries including the United States in early August 2023 soon after news of a possible TikTok ban in the United States. The feature, similar to TikTok, allows Instagram users to create short videos set to music and browse other videos created through the "Explore" much like TikTok's "For You" page.
On August 22nd, 2023, it was reported by leaker Alessandro Paluzzi that Meta was working on a new feature for Instagram called "IG Candid." Paluzzi's tweet, which showed a screenshot (seen below) of the new feature, earned just under 300 likes in the course of a day. The new feature, confirmed by Meta to The Verge, asks users to "Add other’s IG Candid to your story tray. And every day at a different time, get a notification to capture and share a Photo in 2 Minutes."
Commentators and users immediately saw the similarity between this new feature and the BeReal app, which at the time was the No. 1 downloaded app on the App Store. Some concluded IG Candid was an example of a "murder clone," a term coined by Casey Newton to describe a new feature added to an app that duplicates features in another newer and popular app in order to outcompete and crush the new competitor. Instagram had been accused of doing this in the past with both Stories (which many thought was a "murder clone" of Snapchat) and Reels (widely perceived as a "murder clone" of TikTok). Many, such as Twitter user @mrgnrcherIRL who posted on August 23rd and received 76 likes in the course of less than a day (seen below), joked about Instagram's eagerness to copy features from other platforms.
As of July 2012, Instagram has 1,441,741 likes on Facebook, 7,259,013 followers on Twitter and maintains an active Tumblr blog where staff members highlight specific users, offer photo-taking tips and feature photos from selected hashtags every few days.
Outside of its official presence on social networking sites, there is an Instagram hashtag on Twitter and Tumblr where people seek out followers and share their photos outside of the app. There are two subreddits dedicated to the app, /r/Instagram for text posts and /r/InstagramShots for photos. Mashable also has a tag for Instagram related stories. Since Instagram does not offer a profile page for its users, several third-party web-based viewers have popped up including Webstagram and Statigram, which provide users with statistics on how well their photos perform based on the total count of comments and likes, as well as a ranking breakdown of filters used in the photos.
In July of 2018, Instagram added a feature to their stories in which users could add a question to their story, inviting others to answer. When the questions are answered by the user, the asker of the question is now shown. However, that person is known to the user. This led to confusion and blunders, as question-askers thought they were anonymous. Instagram users reported that they had made serious mistakes under the misguided assumption they were anonymous (examples shown below). UK site Standard wrote the feature would become the new way to "slide into someone's DMs."
Terms of Service
On December 17th, 2012, Instagram posted an update regarding its terms of service (TOS), announcing that the company will retain the right to sell users’ photographs without payment or notification beginning in January 2013. The same day, the tech news blog CNET published a post titled “Instagram says it now has the right to sell your photos,” reporting that the change in intellectual property policy will enable its parent company Facebook to license user photos for advertisements. Meanwhile, many Instagram users reacted to the announcement by expressing their distaste for the new TOS, threatening to quit the service if it is enacted. Instagram user clayoncubitt submitted a screenshot of the TOS titled "Instagram's suicide note" (shown below), which received over 495 likes within 24 hours.
Also on December 17th, Redditor de1irium submitted the Instragram announcement to the /r/photography subreddit, where many commenters expressed their disappointment and claimed they would no longer be using the photo-sharing service. On the following day, Redditor vdkatoniclime submitted a post titled “Instagram can now sell your photos” to the /r/funny subreddit, featuring a Facebook screenshot joking that no business would want to by Instagram users’ photographs (shown below).
The same day, Redditor beepgeep submitted the Cnet article to the /r/politics subreddit, where the top-voted comment thread suggested flooding the site with millions of penis pictures on January 16th as part of "Operation Instadick." On December 18th, the tech news blog Motherboard published an article titled "Instagram Clearly Hates You, So Quit," arguing that users should react to the new TOS by exporting all of their photographs to competitor photo-sharing services like Flickr. The same day, Gawker published an article titled "#BoycottInstagram Takes Off After Instagram Moves to Sell Users’ Photos" by staff writer Adrian Chen, reporting that thousands of tweets with the hashtag "#BoycottInstagram" had erupted on Twitter that morning in response to the new TOS.
— Cory Niblett (@cnibz) December 18, 2012
On December 27th, 2018, Instagram released an update for a segment of their userbase that changed the vertical format of the newsfeed to a horizontal format. The interface required users swipe side to side through the timeline.
Reactions to the change were overwhelmingly negative as people tweeted about the change. Twitter user @jxcklynn1 tweeted a video recording of the new app in use and then the user deleting the app from their iPhone. The tweet received more than 45 retweets,160 likes and 19,000 views in less than two hours.
Throughout the morning, people on Twitter continued to lambast the update, demanding that it be changed back (examples below, left).
That morning, the head of Instagram Adam Mosseri confirmed that the change was "just a test." He wrote in a tweet, "Sorry about that, this was supposed to be a very small test but we went broader than we anticipated." The tweet received more than 275 retweets and 430 likes in less than two hours (shown below, right).
In a statement, a spokesperson for the company said:
“Due to a bug, some users saw a change to the way their feed appears today. We quickly fixed the issue and feed is back to normal. We apologize for any confusion.”
Online, the app is considered to be used by Hipsters who take stereotypically artistic nature photos or vanity-fueled self-shots. In August 2010, a form of buzzkilling that came to be known as Instagram Quote Rebuttals emerged on Tumblr, where people began to edit sentimental filtered images with blocky red text, voiding the emotion the original poster was attempting to portray.
#Rosinesing is a photo fad parodying an Instagram photograph of Rosine Chávez, the-14 year-old daughter of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, posing with a wad of U.S. dollar bills. With the country’s economy struggling in foreign currency reserves, the image triggered a series of parody photos from other Venezuelan internet users showing off large quantity of other items that are seen as scarce goods.
Rich Kids of Instagram
The single topic blog Rich Kids of Instagram began on July 13th, 2012 to showcase and critique lavish lifestyles of some teenagers who share photos on the app. The anonymous owners of the blog encourage Instagram users to use the hashtag #rkoi to collect the photos. Within two weeks, 1228 Instagram photos had the hashtag. The blog was featured on the NY Daily News, Buzzfeed, the Atlantic Wire and the Huffington Post, who published a quote from one of the teens whose photo was featured on the blog. Ninteen year old Annabel Schwartz, who was shown vacationing in Saint-Tropez, told reporters she was embarrassed to have her photo on the site, saying her and her friends "consider themselves to be a lot more substantial than their father's credit card."
On August 14th, CNBC published an article titled "'Rich Kids of Instagram': Overserved and Oversharing", which compared the Tumblr blog's voyeuristic appeal to the 2003 documentary film Born Rich and the MTV series "My Super Sweet 16." The same day, PC Mag published the articles "Embarassing Rich Kids of Instagram" and "Oversharing Prompts Shutdown of Dell Daughter's Twitter Account", which reported that a photo Michael Dell's son Zachary eating on a family jet (shown below) was featured on the single topic blog. The photo had been shared on Instagram by daughter Alexa Dell, who was subsequently forced to shut down her various social media accounts.
On August 15th, MSNBC published an article titled "Rich Kids Are Oversharing on Social Medial; Are Yours?" On the following day, the Examiner published an article titled "'Rich Kids of Instagram' Set to Knock McKayla Maroney's Meme Off Its Lofty Perch", which quoted the blog's owner who revealed that the site was doing quite well. Also on August 16th, the technology blog Gather published a post titled "Rich Kids of Instagram: You Haven't Lived Until You've Doused Yourself in Dom Perignon." On the following day, The Washington Post published an op/ed titled "Why the Internet Hates the Rich Kids of Instagram and the Brant Brothers", which argued that the Internet reviles "ostentatious displays of wealth."
 Instagram Blog – The Instagram Community – One Million and Counting
 All Things D – Instagram by the Numbers: 1 Billion Photos Uploaded
 New York Times – Facebook Releases a Photocentric App for Apple Devices
 Wired (via Wayback Machine) – Facebook launches Instagram-style photo app, 'Facebook Camera'
 The Atlantic Wire – Rich Kids of Instagram Epitomize Everything Wrong with Instagram
 the Huffington Post – Rich Kids Of Instagram: Annabel Schwartz, Teen Pictured, Reacts To Viral Tumblr
 The Daily Dot – Instagram's new mapping feature leads to privacy concerns
 Gather (via Wayback Machine)- Rich Kids of Instagram – You Havent Lived Until You've Doused Yourself in Dom Perignon
 The Washington Post – Why the Internet hates the Rich Kids of Instagram and the Brant Brothers
 NY Daily News – Instagram to launch Vine-style video sharing feature: report
 Independent – INSTAGRAM STORIES SECRETLY ADDS NEW QUESTION FEATURE
 Business Insider – Instagram Founders Depart Facebook After Clashes With Zuckerberg