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Instagram expects to begin selling ads within the next year

The Facebook-owned photo-sharing network announces it has grown by 50 million users in the past six months.

James Martin/CNET

Facebook spent $1 billion to acquire Instagram in 2012 and is apparently ready to see a return on its investment.

Although no ads currently appear on the photo-sharing site, Instagram's new chief operating officer expects the site to be ready to begin selling ads within a year.

"We want to make money in the long term, but we don't have any short-term pressure," White told The Wall Street Journal.

A little more than six months after announcing it had 100 million active users, Instagram revealed on Sunday that more than 150 million people are visiting the site each month. Instagram also said that more than 60 percent of its users are coming to the site from outside the United States.

Despite that growth, White's challenge will be integrating marketing into the site without alienating its rapidly expanding user base.

"Theoretically, [Instagram] could be making hundreds of millions of dollars today, but they would need a big sales force and they would risk polluting the environment," Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group, told the Journal.

Following a user backlash last year over terms of service changes, Instagram seems particularly focused on avoiding any changes that might again upset its user base. After igniting a storm of protest last December with the announcing changes to its terms of service that appeared to let the maker of the photo-sharing app sell users' images for ads, Instagram quickly backpedaled and the terms reverted to their original form.