What is Instagram?
Instagram is an online photo-posting service that doubles as a social network. Users can upload digital photos, apply filters to them and share the photos with other users.
The Instagram app has become a leading photo-sharing program for mobile devices, with more than 100 million registered users. In August 2012, the company was acquired by Facebook following a $1 billion offer in cash and stock.
Instagram got its start in October 2010. Kevin Systrom and Michel "Mike" Krieger started it as Burbn, an HTML5-supported program for mobile phones. After receiving funding from various sources (including Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz), it evolved into Instagram. The company says the name is a combination of two old methods of communication:
"When we were kids we loved playing around with cameras. We loved how different types of old cameras marketed themselves as "instant" — something we take for granted today. We also felt that the snapshots people were taking were kind of like telegrams in that they got sent over the wire to others — so we figured why not combine the two?"
How does Instagram work?
After uploading a photo to their Instagram account, users can add filters to it, giving it a distinct look. These special effects vary, including 1977 (a somewhat pinkish tone), Valencia (highly contrast, slightly gray and brown), Earlybird (faded, blurred, focusing on yellow and beige) and Walden (washed-out color with a light blue overtone), among others.
To help find similar people with interest that match theirs, users can also tag their photos with a topic, using a hashtag along the same lines as Twitter. For example, if you're a photographer of birds, you would use "#birds" or the specific name of the bird that interests you, and then do a search for fellow users with the same term. From there, potential friends may pop up, allowing you to rate their photos and share yours.
Users can also share the photos through a number of social sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
Who uses Instagram?
With so many users taking advantage of Instagram, there are plenty of groups who use the service. Musicians utilize it as a tool of expression, as Ellie Goulding did earlier this year with her music video for "Anything Could Happen," which consisted of photographs made by fans. Groups exist as well, including the "Rich Kids of Instagram," who display their indulgence for yachts and other expensive items, and fans that are encouraged by Instagram community members to share their favorite items.