18 Surprising Facts About: Instagram

Pictures are one of the most incredible inventions. Snapshots in time of people, places, and events—frozen forever, along with all of those special memories and feelings attached. They can convey emotion, illustrate ideas, and even inspire the human spirit. But we mostly use them to take pictures of our food. Let’s take a look at some interesting facts you may not know about one of the most popular photography and social networking apps out there: Instagram. The computer code powering the social media powerhouse known as Instagram was written over a period of eight weeks by cofounder Kevin Systrom, though he says that over a year of work went into the final product. He taught himself the art of computer programming in the late hours after his day job, developing a few basic ideas that helped him to hone his programming skills whilst laying down the groundwork for the app we know and love.

The name “Instagram” is a mash up of “instant” and “telegram”. It was inspired by the way snapshots are taken with the app and sent “over the wire” to others. Sure, it’s not technically accurate, but it’s a lot catchier than “Insta-teleport your pictures through the air”. The popular trend of making nostalgic posts to social media known as “Throwback Thursday” first began on Instagram. So remember to thank Instagram the next time your friends share that old embarrassing photo of you.

The app was initially released on October 6th, 2010. It figuratively exploded overnight, gathering over one million registered users by the end of the year. By December of 2011, Apple named Instagram their App of the Year, and the world of hastily posted meal photography with a filter slapped on top hasn’t been the same since. Former wrestler and Hollywood superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson organized a crowd of fans at a movie premier in London in order to break the world record for most selfies taken in three minutes, as recognized by the Guinness Book of World records.

In November of 2010, the Instagram team made the decision to move into an empty office in San Francisco’s South Park. But it wasn’t just any old office, it was the former first office of another social media powerhouse known as Twitter. Hot off their first month of resounding success, the fledgling team was eager to make a statement to the rest of Silicon Valley: they were ready to join the big leagues. Popular musician Ellie Goulding created an entire music video for her song “Anything Could Happen” using nothing but fan submitted Instagram photos. The video features twelve hundred photos stitched together with some snazzy editing for the entire three minute and fifty-one second runtime, immortalising her lucky fans for as long as YouTube persists.

Equal parts creepy and cool, Instagram allows you to tag your current geographical location when you snap a selfie. Using their Photo Map feature, you can see every place you and you friends have taken pictures, for better or worse. Just remember not to tag your location when you’ve just called in sick to work but you’re actually on an impromptu camping trip with your mates. In 2012, Facebook purchased Instagram for an estimated one billion US dollars in cold hard cash and company stocks. Instagram’s Twitter account has made 6,497 posts for its million followers. It only follows three users in turn: Instagram @music and the two cofounders of the company. However, even with that many followers it lands only 12th on the list of the most followed Twitter accounts, behind the likes of Barack Obama, Youtube, and Twitter itself. One of Instagram’s early prototypes was titled “Burbn” named after one of cofounder Kevin Systrom’s favorite drinks. The most popular filter on Instagram is actually no filter at all! Sometimes a good picture just speaks for itself.

Other times, you really should have dressed it up at least a little. The line between those two worlds is perilously thin, my friends. As of January 2015, Instagram sees traffic from over three hundred million monthly active users. That’s a whole lot of people chronicling the minutiae of their lives with the humble photography app, falling just shy of the total population of the United States. According to a study performed by AT&T, a staggering 70% of drivers admit to using their phones whilst driving. From that group of naughty drivers, 14% admit to have been using Instagram.

Who knows, in future public awareness advertisements might be telling you not the add filters to selfies and drive. The first Instagram photo was uploaded on July 16th, 2010, whilst the app was still in development. Two short years after the first test picture was uploaded, over one billion user-shared-photos had joined it in the cloud. The most followed account on Instagram is, unsurprisingly, Instagram itself. Next in line is the ever-popular singer and actress Beyoncé, with almost forty million followers as of July 2015. Following close behind is the no less influential but perhaps far more controversial Kim Kardashian, with around thirty nine million followers. In a study which included many Instagram sourced photos, it was determined that filtered photographs are 21% more likely to be viewed and 45% more likely to be commented on by viewers.

The spike in engagement was most noteworthy with filters that boosted the picture’s warmth, exposure, and contrast. Back in 2012, when Instagram was managed by just fifteen employees and still surging with bewildering popularity, certain unsavory types began to use it as a platform for sharing x-rated images. Since then, the development team has worked hard to tone down the titillating content in favor of more family friendly fare. But have they succeeded? In January of 2015, an Instagram user had their account banned for showing a little too much besides their bikini. To put it bluntly her pubic hair was on show. Instagram reversed their decision in short order, after reviewing the case and determining that there was no actual nudity on display, but a staunch debate continues to rage on to this day between Instagram and the feminist community, over what should be considered censorable material.

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As found on Youtube