Instagram lost 4 million of its 16.4 million daily active users over the Christmas holiday, according to the usage trend monitors at AppData — but let's not jump to conclusions.The New York Post connects the (incomplete) data to last week's revolt against Instagram's new terms of service, but looking at AppData's graph below, the dip doesn't quite match up with the rage.
(Update 12:21 p.m.: Facebook has denied the trend, because of course it would. "This data is inaccurate. We continue to see strong and steady growth in both registered and active users of Instagram," the company said in a statement to The Verge. Read on for why we think that might just be true.)
Instagram got everyone all freaked out around December 17, a day when AppData, whose "numbers reflect trends in usage" rather than exact user counts, actually shows an increase. Could the drop in users have to do with the holidays? Everyone posted turkeys on Thanksgiving and presents on Christmas, plus the controversy sustained itself long enough that test family dinner-table conversations about Instagram — or, you know, some time away from your phone and some more time spent with said family — might be enough to amount to this kind of drop-off:
Indeed, the anti-Instagram revolt has continued, even after the photo-sharing app walked back to its original Terms of Service. While some of the best accounts we lost during the debacle have since resurrected their presences, like National Geographic, others have stayed Instagram-free, fearing the threat of their photos being used as potential advertisements. In an update to his "Why I Quit Instagram" post, Wired's Mat Honan insists that "I still want options." The actress Tiffani Amber Theissen, who vowed she wouldn't use the service, hasn't posted a photo since December 17, which might just be a coincidence, really. And then there's the class-action lawsuit.
So people are still mad at Instagram, but 4 million people is a lot to lose all of sudden. But remember that the drop accounts for daily active users — people who could come back the next day. And remember that a screen-free Christmas is not an irregular occurrence at grandma's house, not even these days. Users might also be taking this week to try out other options, such as SnapChat and Flickr. I got a little surge in requests on both services over the last few days.
In any case, we can see how permanent this drop is by tracking the company over the next few weeks — and probably with more sound numbers than the Post's source. Because maybe the world's photo-sharers were just on a nice little vacation.