Instagram lost about a quarter of daily active users since it tried to implement new terms of service last month, according to AppData. The photo-sharing site is disputing the claim.
In an article that first appeared in the New York Post, AppData released figures that showed Instagram usage peaking at approximately 16.4 million users in mid-December but falling to 12.4 million the week of Christmas.
“[We are] pretty sure the decline in Instagram users was due to the terms of service announcement,” AppData told the Post.
Instagram responded with a brief statement circulated to news outlets, stating, “This data is inaccurate. We continue to see strong and steady growth in both registered and active users of Instagram.”
Other data providers and some tech sites have since come to Instagram’s defense, with counter claims ranging from holiday traffic dips to outright bad data, and at least one label of “sensationalism” for the Post’s piece.
On December 17, Instagram released new terms of service designed to make it a more ad-friendly platform. Users perceived the changes as losing ownership of their content to the point where the Facebook-owned photo sharing site could use their uploaded photos in advertising without consent. The backlash was immediate and widespread. One power user in particular – Kim Kardashian who has 5.8 million followers – announced she would no longer be using the service. Instagram quickly backtracked, reverting the advertising section of its terms back to the original version. (It’s worth noting Kardashian is still not using the site.)
Time will tell on any tangible effect from Instagram’s very Facebook-like snafu in announcing a change in service terms. For now, the bad publicity is a very real stain.