Facebook has bought out Instagram for $1bn (£629m) in cash and stock.
The popular free mobile photo-sharing app will remain an independently branded standalone app that’s separate from Facebook, but the services will increase their ties to each other.
Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to continue to develop Instagram as a separate brand, allowing it to post to rival networks.
Instagram allows users to apply 17 filters to the pictures they take – changing the colour balance to give the images a different feel – before they are uploaded.
It has proven hugely popular. The firm says that it has more than 30 million users uploading more than 5 million new pictures every day.
At 27 million registered users on iOS alone, Instagram was increasingly positioning itself as a social network in its own right — not just a photo-sharing app. The app was only launched in October 2010 – initially just for the iPhone before being offered as an Android app recently.
Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page: “We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience.
“We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.”
He added: “This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all.”