Instagram Sees Drop in User Base, Is the Policy Backlash to Blame?


All over the Internet today, reports have spread like wildfire that the Instagram Policy Backlash has cost the picture sharing service as many of 25% of their active users. All of these initial reports stemmed from data collected by app metrics firm AppData, an analytics firm that keeps track of daily, weekly and monthly active users for any given app — and the company’s most recent readouts on Instagram showed a decline of nearly 25% in daily active users (from 16 million to 12.5 million).

Seeing the massive metrics drop, AppData immediately told The New York Post that it was “pretty sure the decline in Instagram users was due to the terms of service announcement.” As people have taken a closer look at the numbers, however, they’ve begun to realize that something doesn’t quite make sense.

As BuzzFeed pointed out, the drop on AppData’s metrics came on December 24th, a week after the worst of the policy backlash. By comparison, the spike in Flickr’s user base reported side-by-side with the Instagram drop happened when it was supposed to, and only consisted of about 50,000 new users.

Instagram is facing a class action lawsuit over its recent policy changes

Instagram is facing a class action lawsuit over its recent policy changes

In an ironic turn of events, AppData has backtracked by releasing the following statement:

AppData reflects only Facebook-connected users of the Instagram app. Though the terms of service change spurred a lot of negative media attention and complaints from users, the decline in Facebook-connected daily active users began closer to Christmas, not immediately after the proposed policy changes. The drop between Dec. 24 and 25 seems likely to be related to the holiday, during which time people are traveling and otherwise have different routines than usual. A number of other apps saw similar trends, including Skype, Pandora, Pinterest and Yelp.

There’s no doubt, however, that there has been a backlash — both from the proposed policy changes and the misleading AppData report. Beyond the previously reported class action lawsuit that Facebook is facing, the hasty reports today have been blamed for a subsequent 2% drop in Facebook’s stock.

And although an Instagram spokesman has reached out to The Verge to say that, “This data is inaccurate. We continue to see strong and steady growth in both registered and active users of Instagram,” the jump in Flickr’s user base and dip in Instagram activity/followers on several big-name accounts seem to indicate that Instagram is, in fact, losing users in the debacle.

Image credit: Photograph by Sin Amigos

  • Dominik Muench

    Anyone else notice this annoying bug that since the latest update of instagram for IOs, you can only access and upload photos that are in your camera roll folder ? instagram doesn’t allow you access to other photo folders on your I Device anymore. E.g I have a folder called Portfolio…which I had on my iphone since the day I bought it and it has all my photography work in it which I used to share on instagram, this folder is not accessible anymore…I now have to copy all the photos I want on instagram to my camera roll first before they can be uploaded….totally pain in the neck.

  • Duke Shin

    Jeez people, nobody in their right minds would actually PAY for your cutesy macro shots of lattes and salads, mirror-self-portraits, or whatever it is, especially if it’s got 20 different filters slathered over it.

  • Yojo

    Re: new IG – I almost thought the same thing. Flick up all the way. You’ll see an arrow back to your albums.

  • Dominik Muench

    Ha, wicked thanks, this must be new with the most recent update they released last week ? before that i could swear it didn’t work.

  • Micky Wiswedel

    you’d be suprised. Stock photo companies now accept images taken with smartphones, filters and all, including Instagram and Hipstamatic. There is a worldwide demand for these shots

  • Richard

    I dumped Instagram last week, not because of this change in terms, but because flickr finally put out a decent iPhone app that works quite well. I was using Instagram to post to twitter and flickr and the UI was great for that. Now that flickr has it covered I have no use for it as I’m not on Facebook and didn’t care all that much about the Instagram community. My guess is flickr’s new app had at least a little to do with this drop in numbers on Instagram.

  • Burnin Biomass

    “Instagram sees drop in user base”

    Because hipsters have a short attention span.

  • FukMARK

    Anything that has the smell of mark zuckerberg will turn into a cooperate orgy later on. I canceled my Facebook and now will cancel my Instagram, what a scam they have become…….

  • Mansgame

    maybe people just got sick of the fad of having crappy pictures with filters.