Instagram says it has 300 million users, will begin verifying accounts

Instagram announces it now has more than 300 million users worldwide, making it bigger than Twitter

Instagram now has more than 300 million users worldwide, making it bigger than Twitter.

The popular photo-sharing app announced its latest user figures in a blog post from Chief Executive Kevin Systrom on Wednesday, saying users share more than 70 million photos and videos every day.

Instagram also announced the addition of verified badges for celebrities, athletes and brands, making it easier for users to identify and connect with authentic accounts; verified badges, such as those used by Twitter, are typically little icons that appear next to a person's user name, denoting that his or her identity has been verified by the company. Instagram's badges will start rolling out "over the coming days," Systrom said.

As part of its efforts to improve authenticity, Instagram has been deactivating spammy accounts. That means those accounts will no longer be included in follower counts, so some users will see a change in how many people follow them on Instagram. 

"As more people join, keeping Instagram authentic is critical -- it’s a place where real people share real moments," Systrom said. "We’re committed to doing everything possible to keep Instagram free from the fake and spammy accounts that plague much of the Web."

Facebook-owned Instagram -- and Facebook itself -- have been seeing strong user figures lately.

Facebook, with 1.3 billion users worldwide, leads social media by attracting 66% of its monthly visitors in the U.S. to its service daily, according to a survey released this week by stock research firm UBS.

Instagram is No. 2 with 43% of monthly users in the U.S. scrolling through images and videos daily. Twitter is third at 40%.

The data are the latest to show that, while Facebook might be losing favor among some teenagers, the company’s ownership of Instagram and messaging service WhatsApp are helping keep them in the family. About 60% of Instagram’s teen users identified themselves as daily users, just ahead of Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter.

Teenagers said they spent considerably more time on Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest this year compared with last year, according to the survey. Twitter, followed by Facebook, received only slightly more attention.

UBS also surveyed Facebook users about what they thought about ads on the social network, concluding that Facebook has room to drive even more consumer purchases than it already does if it continues to improve on who sees which ads.

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