Instagram one month later: No hint of lingering troubles

After the December debacle over new wording in Instagram's terms of service, traffic statistics suggest the photo-sharing giant has recovered nicely.

Jennifer Van Grove Former Senior Writer / News
Jennifer Van Grove covered the social beat for CNET. She loves Boo the dog, CrossFit, and eating vegan. Her jokes are often in poor taste, but her articles are not.
Jennifer Van Grove
2 min read

New information from Web analytics firm Experian Hitwise suggests Instagram has recovered nicely from a seemingly disastrous privacy policy uproar last month.

For the 15 days since December 18, Instagram.com received more than 41.7 million total U.S. visits, an increase of 18 percent compared with the 15 days prior to the controversial proposed policy changes. The data was provided to CNET by Experian Marketing Services on request.

"The holidays see a spike in traffic as people are sharing more pictures than perhaps normal," Experian Marketing Services spokesman Matt Tatham told CNET, adding that the data doesn't include mobile traffic.

Facebook declined to provide official data or comment on this story.

Instagram members were alarmed in mid December when the Facebook-owned property announced it would include new language in its terms of service. The ambiguous language additions led many to believe that Instagram would be allowed to sell members' photos without their permission and without payment. The proposed changes set off a ruckus so loud that many users, influential celebrities included, said they'd be deleting their accounts.

Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom responded by assuring members that their photos would not be sold, and he apologized for the confusion. The offending language has since been removed -- with Instagram reverting to its 2010 terms of service just before the holiday season kicked in -- but the damage was done, according to a widely circulated New York Post article claiming an Instagram exodus was in effect. That story cited third-party data from AppData -- which tracks Instagram users who log on through Facebook -- that showed a decline of close to 25 percent of the app's daily active users. An Instagram representative told CNET that the data was inaccurate.

If Instagram's Web traffic is any indicator, the photo-sharing app is weathering its privacy storm quite nicely, likely with the holidays to thank for its buoyancy. The 18 percent uptick in Web traffic is not reflective of user growth or indicative of any changes on mobile; it may represent nothing more than normal holiday fluctuations in sharing behaviors. Still, the 41.7 million visits Instagram accrued during the past 15 days speak to the continued relevance and growing footprint of a service that many turn to for sharing their most intimate moments.