Instagram is denying reports that the photo-sharing service suffered a massive loss of users this month when it announced terms of service letting it use consumers' snapshots in ads. The company quickly reversed itself, but the New York Post reported Friday morning that the episode had nonetheless driven away a quarter of Instagram's users.
"This data is inaccurate," an Instagram spokeswoman responded in a statement. "We continue to see strong and steady growth in both registered and active users of Instagram."
The Post's article was based upon data released by mobile-app research company AppData. That data suggested that Instagram's daily average users had decreased to 12.4 million today from 16.4 million last Wednesday -- two days after Instagram described the controversial new terms of service.
As others pointed out, however, AppData only tracks Instagram users who connect their accounts with their Facebook accounts, a subset of Instagram users that doesn't necessarily reflect the whole. The reported decline also came days after Instagram had already backtracked. And the service's rank in the Apple App Store has actually increased, suggesting that Instagram has seen a surge in new users. It was ranked No. 10 on Friday, up from No. 22 a week earlier.
BuzzFeed argued Friday that there are reasons to believe there was a decrease in Instagram users -- "albeit a much smaller one." Flickr, Yahoo's photo-storing and -sharing service, saw a jump in daily average users soon after the Instagram outcry, it pointed out. BuzzFeed's own Instagram account also saw a small loss in followers on Dec. 18, the first dip since BuzzFeed began tracking it.
Flickr has seen a steep decline in its App Store rank, however, while Instagram's has risen. Flickr is currently ranked a dismal No. 215 in the Apple App Store, after being ranked 32nd on Dec. 18, the day Instagram introduced the new terms of service.