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article imageInstagram tops 500 million monthly active users

By James Walker     Jun 21, 2016 in Technology
Over 500 million people now use photo-sharing service Instagram every month, the company has revealed. The news comes shortly after it switched to using algorithms to sort photos in feeds and launched a controversial redesign of its app and icon.
Instagram announced today that the six-year old service now attracts over 500 million people each month. Over 300 million people use the app at least once per day, collectively posting an average of 95 million photos and videos. 80 percent of users are based outside of the United States.
In a blog post, Instagram thanked users for "your creativity, your openness and your passion for sharing your worlds with one another." The app is now more popular than Twitter and Snapchat, the latter currently reaching around 100 million predominantly young users each month.
"As you've captured and shared the moments happening around you, you've formed incredibly varied and diverse communities," said Instagram. "Whether you're an illustrator, a sneakerhead, or an astronaut on the International Space Station, every photo and video you share helps bring people closer to friends and interests, broadens perspectives and inspires a sense of wonder. You've made Instagram a place where the everyday and the epic are always within reach."
Last month, Instagram rolled out a major new redesign of its app. The old dark blue interface has been replaced by a bright white theme with strawberry red accents, creating a lighter feel that Instagram claims emphasises uploaded photos. The overhaul includes a new icon based on a bright gradient fill, a radical departure from the retro-styled camera of old.
The design has been met with criticism online. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom confirmed to the BBC the company knew "it would be a tough time" but persevered with the update to "create a mark that was universal." Systrom said Instagram conducted case studies into the evolution of company logos, discovering they tend to become simpler over time until an icon is created. "We skilled a few steps, and we went straight to iconic," said Systrom.
The executive also denied that the introduction of algorithmic feed sorting is designed to surface more adverts to users. The very controversial change has frustrated many users who prefer the old chronological layout, drawing accusations of Instagram having ulterior motives for the move.
"I can say for a fact that's absolutely not what this is about," said Systrom. "Nothing about ads or how many ads we show is affected by what happens with the algorithm. This is all about making sure that you see the best stuff."
The criticism doesn't seem to have detracted from Instagram's growth though. It remains one of the fastest-growing and most popular social networks, capable of attracting a wide and diverse audience centred on a variety of photographic themes. Instagram has ambitions for the future which will see it grow even further to include more people. "Our job is not to be the cool place to be, our job is to be the most useful and interesting place to be," said Systrom.
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