Instagram says it's bigger than Twitter
Instagram users can soon expect a dip in their follower counts as, in a bid to keep the photo-sharing social network "authentic", CEO Kevin Systrom has announced that "spammy accounts" will be deleted from the service.
The social media giant has been deactivating such accounts for some time but will now wipe them from the web for good.
"Follower counts will be fully accurate and only reflect the actual human beings or actual accounts that are following you," said Gabe Madway, Instagram's communications chief.
"We want you to believe that your interactions and the people you share with are real people and are following you in good faith."
Users whose follower counts drop will receive an in-app notification explaining the change, Systrom said in a blog post published this week.
The announcement comes alongside news that, nine months after topping the 200 million mark, the app has reached a new milestone: 300 million monthly active users globally.
The milestone puts the US-based company ahead of publicly-traded social network Twitter, which as of October boasted 284 million monthly active users.
On average, Instagram users share 70 million photos a day, up from 60 million the year before. To date, users have shared 30 billion photos.
"We're thrilled to watch this community thrive and witness the amazing connections people make over shared passions and journeys," Systrom said.
Instagram also revealed it will begin verifying public figures and brands in a bid to cut down on imposter accounts, much like Twitter does with its blue tick system.
Musicians, movie stars and athletes will be among the first to get verification in coming weeks, with other groups being added later
Launched in 2010, Instagram allows users to share photos, often with special filters. Last year, the mobile app for Android, iOS and Windows Phone added video. Earlier this year, Instagram launched a separate Hyperlapse app so users can capture time-lapsed videos.
In 2012, social network Facebook acquired Instagram for US$1 billion, and has sought ways to make money off the photo-sharing service. Instagram began running ads last year, and its 300 million user base is "very attractive" to marketers, says eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson.
"Instagram's ad business is still very new and has a lot of growing up to do - for example, its targeting capabilities are still very limited," she says. "But the company's new authentication initiatives send a message to the ad community that their followers will be real entities and that the impressions they receive will not be fakes or bots."