Created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, Instagram is the home for visual storytelling for everyone from celebrities, newsrooms, and brands, to teens, musicians and anyone with a creative passion. Instagram is a global community of more than 600 million users.1 It was acquired by Facebook in 20122.

Instagram is a social networking platform where users can share photos and videos with other users. The user's profile can be either public or private. Users have the option of sharing their posts with other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr.

Originally, a distinctive feature was that it confined photos to a square shape, similar to Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid SX-70 images, in contrast to the 4:3 aspect ratio typically used by mobile device cameras. In August 2015, version 7.5 was released for mobile devices, allowing users to upload media captured in any aspect ratio, but not at full size.

Features and Functions


Main Interface

Instagram orders user's feeds to show photos it thinks they want to see. It uses an algorithm to organize posts instead of displaying them chronologically. The top of each photo shows the user's profile and their location (if they choose to share their location). To the right, there are options to report a user, copy a post, share a URL, turn on post notifications, and share on messenger. Users can write a caption to go along with the photo, or they can post "emojis" instead of text. Users can also use hashtags in their post, so other people can find their pictures/videos. Followers can "like" pictures, comment on them, or send them to other people using the direct message feature.

On the bottom of the screen, there are five buttons a user can use to navigate Instagram.
1. The first button looks like a house and that takes a user to their newsfeed.
2. The second button looks like a magnifying glass and that is the search button. When a user presses that button, Instagram loads photos and videos they may like. To figure out those photos and videos, Instagram uses an algorithm.
3. The third button has a plus symbol in a box. This button lets a user upload photos or videos on directly onto the platform.
4. The fourth button looks like a heart. These are the notifications. There are two columns in this category. The "You" column shows the user's notifications about their own personal profile. The notifications can be who liked the user's
posts and friend requests. The "Following" column shows the activity of the user's friends.
5. The last button looks like a person. This is the user's own profile page.
6. Swiping right lets a user use Instagram Direct. This feature allows users to share private photos, videos, and messages to a friend or group.
7. At the top of the screen, there will be a button with the user's profile picture in it and say "Your Story". This feature allows users to post photos and videos that disappear after viewing them.

User's Profile- Mobile Friendly Version


The user's profile is unique to that individual; however, there are certain functions that are the same on every profile of every person who uses Instagram. There is a circle in the top left corner of the screen. That is the place that a user can put a profile picture if they choose. The person's name is underneath the profile picture. A user can choose to put a biography underneath their name. The biography can be anything the user wants it to be, same with the name and profile picture. On the right hand side of the screen, there are three categories called "posts," "followers," and "following". The posts category shows how many photos/videos the user has uploaded to Instagram. The "followers" category shows how many followers or friends a user has. The "following" category shows how many people the user is following. The mobile version makes it extremely easy to upload photos and videos. People can also use the hastag feature. This is where a user can insert the pound sign followed by a phrase. This uses the search engine optimization to its full capacity. The mobile version makes it easy to upload content. A user doesn't have to find a computer and upload content that way.

Under the biography portion, there are four different tabs.
1. The first one looks like a grid; it shows the photos/videos a user has posted in grid form. It will not show any captions or comments, just the photos. Three posts go across the screen in a row. Columns can vary by how many posts the user's create.
2. The second tab looks like bullet points; it shows the posts in list format. This shows the posts with any captions or comments that may have been made.
3. The third tab looks like a picture hanging on the wall; it shows how many posts a user has been tagged in.
4. The fourth and final tab looks like a ribbon or a bookmark; it shows the posts a user has saved.

User's Profile-Desktop Version

At the top of the screen on the left hand side, there are two buttons.
1. There is picture of a camera and Instagram's logo. Both of these buttons take a user directly to their newsfeed.
2. The search bar is right in the middle at the top of the screen and a user can search for people on Instagram.
3.On the right hand side, there is a button that looks like a compass. This allows a user to discover people that they may not have known before.
4. The next button is a heart and that is the activity of the user. It includes people who follow users and "likes" based on the posts.
5. The next button looks like a person; this is an individual's personal profile.

The desktop version looks very similar to the mobile version. However, on the desktop version, there are three dots next to the "edit profile" button. If a user clicks on that, they will be able to log out of their account or cancel the action. Also on the desktop version, the heart and comment buttons are actually on the picture, not underneath. At the very bottom of the screen, there many more options than on the mobile version. The options are as follows: "About Us," "Support," "Blog," "Press," "API," "Jobs," "Privacy," "Terms," "Directory," and "Language". There is a copyright logo at the bottom right hand side of the screen. This version of the platform make it difficult to upload photos/videos. A user has to plug their device into the computer and upload the content by putting it on the computer first, then they have to upload it to Instagram's website.

Terms of Use

A complete version of Instagram's Terms of Use can be viewed here.

Overview of Basic Terms

Users are responsible for all personal activity that occurs within their account. Users are required to provide accurate and current information, and they must update their information in response to changes to that information. Users who violate the Terms of Use may have their Instagram account terminated. Instagram is not responsible for any Content posted by users, and they take no responsibility for any illegal activity.

Users are responsible for their personal interactions with other users. Instagram takes no responsibility for user conduct, and they will not be in charge of monitoring, editing, or removing any user’s Content. If any Content violates the Terms of Use, the user bears any and all legal repercussions3.

Collection and Use of Information

Instagram collects information from three major sources: user Content, profile information, and the usernames, passwords and e-mail addresses used to register for an Instagram account.

Instagram uses cookies and similar technology to collect information about how Instagram is being used. This information analyzes metrics that may be shared with third-party advertisers. These advertisers use metrics to provide advertisements based on the interests of Instagram users. Copies of user Content that has been deleted may be archived by Instagram or any third-party advertisers who have been given access to that information4.


The mobile-app version of Instagram has a straight-forward presentation of features and functions. The buttons that take users to the various pages are easy to see, and the icons effectively indicate where those pages lead. Instagram does well to encourage users to post Content. It has various locations where users can upload images from their gallery and has a built-in camera to capture Content on the fly. From the user profile page, users are afforded quick access to the users they follow and their saved photos. The search page provides recommended Content and the ability to search through users, tags and places. Instagram successfully guides users through the key functions of their application with practical organization and a sleek presentation.

The desktop version of Instagram is extremely limited. The main function of Instagram, sharing Content, is unavailable from the desktop. Users only have access to the newsfeed and very limited versions of their user profile, like page and Instagram Direct.

While much of Instagram is user-friendly, a few features take considerably more effort to grasp. Instagram’s “Your Story” function does not explain itself well. Users must experiment with the feature themselves to make sense of how to use it. The “Your Story” camera makes use of options not available in the standard camera, and these options are not well-explained. This function is similar to Snapchat, and users who are familiar with that application will handle “Your Story” with ease. Users who are new to the function may have a difficult adjustment period.


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