Instagram celebrates 300 million users with verified badges for VIPs

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Instagram has always been beloved by photographers, selfie-takers, and latte lovers, but now we can put its popularity in context: Instagram officially has more fans than Twitter.

The photo-sharing network has 300 million monthly active users compared to Twitter’s 284 million, despite the real-time news platform’s bigger profile. Of course, Twitter would argue it has a larger footprint than just monthly active users—CEO Dick Costolo has said the network reaches an additional 500 million unique visitors each month who never log into the network.

Like Twitter, Instagram is a celebrity favorite. Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and hundreds of other stars use the network regularly to post behind-the-scenes snapshots of their lives. Now Instagram is going to verify those users, like Twitter does, with badges for VIPs and brands. You’ll see those roll out this week.

Instagram has attracted scammers and spam accounts since launching four years ago. The network hasn’t commented on its anti-spam efforts until now:

“We’re committed to doing everything possible to keep Instagram free from the fake and spammy accounts that plague much of the web, and that’s why we’re finishing up some important work that began earlier this year,” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said in a Wednesday blog post.

That work included the deactivation of spam accounts, but those accounts are now also being scrubbed from the network. If your follower count drops, that’s why.

Instagram has proved it has staying power, so now the big question is: Did Systrom sell too early? When Facebook acquired the app in April 2012, it was tiny: just 30 million users. That’s why Instagram’s $1 billion price tag seemed hefty at the time. But WhatsApp commanded $21.8 billion for its 450 million users when Facebook snatched up the messaging app earlier this year—perhaps Systrom and co. could’ve raked in a few more billion had they waited.

Then again, Facebook allowed Instagram to focus on building a solid user experience without worrying about making money, which the network is now slowly testing ads that don’t look out of place in your feed. And it looks like the two companies are enjoying their union, if Facebook posts are any indication:

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