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Instagram co-founders leaving company, reportedly amid clashes with Facebook

Instagram Vice President Adam Mosseri is the most likely candidate to take over the app, according to multiple reports.

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Instagram co-founders Mike Krieger (center) and Kevin Systrom (right) have reportedly resigned from the Facebook-owned app.

James Martin/CNET

The co-founders of Facebook's photo sharing app Instagram have resigned their positions and plan to leave the company in the coming weeks.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom and Chief Technical Officer Mike Krieger notified Instagram and Facebook executives Monday, The New York Times reported. Systrom confirmed the resignations in a company blog post late Monday, saying they're "now ready for the next chapter."

"We're planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again," Systrom wrote. "Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that's what we plan to do."

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In place of Systrom, Instagram Vice President Adam Mosseri is most likely to take over as the app's leader, according to multiple news reports. Before moving over to Instagram, Mosseri ran Facebook's iconic news feed, and is a close friend of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Instagram declined to comment on who would take over, calling reports about Mosseri "speculation."

The departures of Systrom and Krieger come amid frustration by the app's founders with Facebook's increased "meddling" with Instagram's future, according to a report Tuesday from Recode. When Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion six years ago, a crucial part of the deal was the independence Zuckerberg gave Instagram's founders to make their own decisions about products and company culture. 

But as Facebook has struggled lately, dealing with everything from fake news to declining interest among young people, Zuckerberg has reportedly tightened his grasp on Instagram. Still, Zuckerberg wished Systrom and Krieger well in a statement. "Kevin and Mike are extraordinary product leaders and Instagram reflects their combined creative talents," he wrote. "I've learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it."

Under heavy scrutiny

The resignations also come amid heightened criticism that Facebook and Instagram aren't doing enough to police their content. US intelligence agencies determined that the Russian government had used these platforms to disseminate false news and advertisements in an attempt to influence US elections in 2016.

Russians used stolen identities to pose as Americans on Facebook and Instagram, creating Facebook groups, buying divisive ads and posting inflammatory images, according to an indictment unsealed in February that charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups with interfering in the 2016 election.

Facebook said in July it'd identified a coordinated effort on its main service and on Instagram to interfere in the US midterm elections. The behavior included posts similar to some that have been identified as Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election, as well as 30 real-world protests, organized by fake pages.

Founded in 2010 by Stanford University graduates Systrom and Krieger, Instagram has grown from a photo sharing service into a popular photo app used by more than 1 billion people each month.

Facebook has been busy integrating features made popular by Snapchat into the app, and those efforts have paid off. The social networking giant said in November it counted 300 million daily active users using Instagram Stories, which lets people publish a series of photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours.

First published Sept. 24, 7:05 p.m. PT.
Update, 8:20 p.m. PT: Adds Systrom confirmation.
Update, September 25, 1:11 p.m. PT: Adds information throughout.

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