Instagram Critical Internet Ecology Analysis

Figure 1: Instagram for Business: Everything You Need to Know
  1. Introduction

Social media refers to using different an electronic communication to help people in creating online communication, including sharing ideas, information, images, and private messages (Mayfield, 2008). Sharing information on social media is a regular activity in the contemporary world. People are looking for social capital and position, looking for entertainment, maintaining companionship, interchanging information, enhancing political mobilization, and being involved in ineffective interactions. Offering and sharing information is a duty of people in social media platforms as it permits social media users to establish, share, and interact with other users. In social media platforms, the obligation is categorized into three groups: the role to receive, role to give, and role to reciprocate (Mauss, 2002). The obligation of share can be categorized into three, including finding identical things, sharing and communicating an individual’s personal experience and feelings. Social media plays three main roles in building communities, providing users analytically based on service interactions, attracting the audience for information, and combining, sharing, establishing, and endorsing media aspects. Social media’s various roles show that it offers significant capacity storage, manages the information, and is used as a remote server and software application connected with the internet. Social media has been criticized for tracking users’ searches, using information and production for catering appropriate favour for users like games, advertisements, offers of products and services. This essay explores the history of Instagram, transformative changes Instagram has impacted on social, economic, political, and cultural elements in society.

Figure 1: Instagram for Business: Everything You Need to Know
  1. Entity and Its Role as Agent of Internetworked Change

The term Instagram refers to a coined term of instantaneous camera and telegram. Instagram is a social media platform used by people for sharing videos and photos online. Instagram was established in 2010 by Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom. It offers social media users a site to post and share their videos and photos and add different tags, filters, and locations. In sharing their posts, users can decide to share their posts privately or publicly. Other people can use the heart button for like or leave messages on the post and privately communicate with the users.

  1. History and Ownership of Instagram

The establishment of Instagram began in San Francisco when Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom decided to emphasize on multi-featured check-in program in the photography sector. In March 2010, Systrom was given $500,000 as seed financing from Andreessen Horowitz and Baseline Ventures when he joined their meeting for the launching of Hunch located in Silicon Valley. In July 2010, the first Instagram picture of a dog in Mexico and Systrom’s fiance foot. In October 2010, there was the official launching of the iOS app of Instagram in the app store. In March 2012, the social media platform was purchased by Facebook at the cost of $1 billion (Price, 2012). In November 2012, different website profiles were established, but the app did not have a search bar, the function of uploading photos and news feeds. This resulted in redesigning the app to add a function to support videos and direct messages in 2015 and 2016. In May 2016, various elements were added on Instagram, including modern and colourful icons and white and black themes. During this time, it was identified that 80% of Instagram users were found outside the US region, and 50% of the users were also using android. In September 2018, Instagram Systrom and Krieger withdrew as the heads of Instagram and were replaced by Adam Mosseri.

  1. Research Agenda: transformative political and social changes brought by Instagram

Addiction to Instagram is one of the serious issues in society which impacts people’s health, and people spend most of their time using and browsing Instagram. According to Rani & Kurt (2018), Instagram users spent an average of 53 minutes in a day using the app. This shows that users spend overwhelming time on Instagram, which causes addiction to the app, impacting people’s daily lives. For instance, in an interview done by ABC News, a girl known as Charlotte Meagher stated that social media affected how children were living (Ashielgh, 2017). Charlotte indicated that she had decreased the food she consumes to retain her skinny body on Instagram, and this had affected her childhood to pursue her appropriate life (Ashielgh, 2017). The addiction to Instagram has significantly affected the mental health of people. Although the use of Instagram is a type of self-expression, it can create personal and community communication and emotional support. A study done in 2015 showed that spending more than two hours on social media in a day can cause mental health problems, suicidal thoughts, psychological distress among teens (n.d, 2017).

A recent study by the United Kingdom Royal Society for Public Health showed that Instagram is the main social media platform that affects teenagers’ health and well-being (n.d, 2017). This is because Instagram causes a high level of depression, anxiety, and bullying among teens. For instance, when an individual posts videos or photos on Instagram, the person can be anxious because of the low number of likes he gets on his post, which can reduce a person’s self-esteem. This is because teenagers associate the number of likes they get from other social media users as a tantamount of their attractiveness. Also, “life envy” can be experienced when individuals view posts of other people having a vacation or entertaining. This will make the individual compare their lives and feel despaired for having less life enjoyment. Most images on Instagram can be edited and filters incorporated to ensure the photo seems perfect, giving a deceptive impression to female Instagram users that the picture’s body is the real individual’s body shape. This makes female Instagram users less confident in their body shapes. Most of them get depressed after looking at the “perfect” body image for other users and judge their body shapes, which make them undermine their value.

Also, bullying is social issue that has been increased by social media platforms like Instagram. According to the study Pew Survey, 59% of teens experience cyberbullying, and a 2017 study of Ditch the label showed that over 20% of kids aged 12 to 20 years had experienced bullying on Instagram (Taylor, 2018). This indicates that Instagram is no longer a platform that allows the expression of an individual’s opinions but an exploitation platform for bullying. In the cyber world, teens are the main targets for bullying as their appearances are usually attacked. For instance, in 2018, Mia-Lili Bennett, a girl from Norwich school, was bullying on Instagram as her beauty was attacked (Geraldine, 2018). A post was uploaded with Mia’s face, and users started voting if Mia was beautiful or not, which made Mia have a traumatic mental attack as 53% of users reacted with “hell ya.” This made Bennett, who aged ten years to be listed on the suicide watch, to avoid aggressiveness behaviour to appear on her. Instagram has been used as a device for exploiting and executing people.

Instagram is associated with politics because most politicians use it as a platform for political attacks and a site for conveying political views and marketing political campaigns. Due to the increase of Instagram users, this activity was depicted in 2015 during Trump’s campaign as political squabbles in America had been taken to social media. As indicated by the Pew Survey of 2014, American Instagram users increased from 13% in 2013 to 26% in 2014, and the young users were from 18 to 29 years, showing 53% of the users (Aaron, 2015). This indicates that Instagram is a strong platform and an advertisement platform for attracting more support from youngsters in America. In America, national politicians exploit Instagram as they use it as a page for maintaining their image in politics. For instance, a New Jersey Democratic senator posted his latest meal on Instagram. Also, Trump criticized George Bush, claiming that Bush supported the Iraq War and uploaded Jeb’s mother’s photo to press Bush and make him stop vying for the presidency. Also, Bush posted an 80-sec video titled “The Real Donald Trump” to attack back Trump. The video included other short clips depicting how Trump’s support increased 25% tax of high-income Americans and Trump’s support on a single-payer healthcare system, which succeeded in Canada and Scotland and terming himself as “prochoice of every respect.” Moreover, Bush uploaded a picture of a document from the New York Times eulogizing former Democratic Speaker of House Nancy Pelosi, which showed Trump has signed it. This shows that Instagram is used as a platform for teasing politicians of various political opinions changing the platform from an app for sharing scenery and food to a weapon for political attacks.

  1. Map

Instagram activities are supported by users, suppliers, competitors, regulators and partners. Instagram has various partners who help clients worldwide. Film subscription viewing service Fandor is one of the Instagram partners, which runs videos through the platform to help the entity reinvigorate its brand. CitizenNet, another partner of Instagram, helped the brand widen the video’s reach through running ads across the platform and Facebook. Kenshoo is another partner of Instagram, which has been working with Brilliant Earth to retarget visitors. The main suppliers of Instagram are companies doing advertisements using the platforms. The rules which control posts on Instagram are made by the governments; hence governments are the main regulator of the platform. The main competitors of Instagram are Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok and Pinterest. The users of Instagram are individuals all over the world.

Figure 2: Instagram social ecology
  1. Business Model of Instagram

Moreover, the business model for Instagram is earning money from promotional advertisements of particular types of brands similar to how Facebook was earning (Kusumasondjaja & Tjiptono, 2019). Instagram’s original purpose was to share informal picture society as the platform was established with a nonprofit objective. However, Instagram started encouraging and offering paid advertising services hence famous brands such as Nike are using the platform for advertising their products. since 2013, Instagram’s business strategy was established to outcompete other informal communication platforms and sites by updating its new functions like recording transfer, photographs, live stories, and self-vanishing stores in a day. As indicated by Merkle’s Digital Marketing Report in 2018, advertisers’ expenditure on Instagram increased by 177% each year, and impressions of Instagram also increased by 209% every year. This indicated that the Instagram value had increased rapidly from $35 billion to $100 billion. Also, Instagram promoters depicted slideshows and linkage to the locales outside Instagram, allowing the users to use other sites. In addition, organizations could collaborate with many followers of Instagram users as these individuals have a lot of attraction from the people, which can make advertisements of commodities or services get attention from people immediately. For instance, Love Island star Olivia Buckland was the brand ambassador of Warpaint Cosmetics organizations, and she used to post images of eye shadow with the words “#BucksBeauty.” This indicates that Instagram is being used as a platform for advertising commodities and a device for internet celebrities to earn income. Most of the brands of organizations usually use them to advertise their commodities. Thus Instagram has changed the traditional method of advertising. The graph below shows the number of active Instagram users in a month

Figure 3: The number of active Instagram users between January 2013 and June 2018
  1. Summary

Instagram has shown a transformative effect on society’s economic, social, and political elements, which has changed people’s lifestyles and increased contemporary social problems. Instagram is used as a platform for people to share photos, videos related to individual life and political views, and also as a platform for advertising. The increase in the number of Instagram users shows that Instagram is part of people’s lives. However, due to the negative effects of Instagram on mental health, the application’s use should be curbed in society.



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Kusumasondjaja, S., & Tjiptono, F. (2019). Endorsement and visual complexity in food advertising on Instagram. Internet Research.

Mauss, M. (2002). The gift: The form and reason for exchange in archaic societies. Routledge.

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Taylor, L. (2018). Teens Are Being Bullied ‘Constantly’ on Instagram. Retrieved from: