This is just me shooting from the hip here, but follow me through the last few days of Instagram news to see if, perhaps, they might have done all of this on purpose.
On December 10th Instagram announces they hit 300M accounts and also said this:
We’ve been deactivating spammy accounts from Instagram on an ongoing basis to improve your experience. As part of this effort, we will be deleting these accounts forever, so they will no longer be included in follower counts. This means that some of you will see a change in your follower count.
Deactivating is not deleting. Deactivating is turning the account off in some way. My guess is that deactivated accounts still were counted in the 300M Instagram accounts. But I do not know for sure.
So, they decided to start deleting Instagram accounts only after announcing they’ve hit 300M users.
Then, a few days later — just before deleting all of these accounts — they wave their hand in front of your face by releasing five new filters and a few nice features.
Everyone loves new features. Then, boom — they get an amazing valuation by Citi of $35B. Zuckerberg is smiling somewhere with that kind of valuation. Showing his ~$1B buyout to be nothing short of magic.
Riding high they begin actually deleting accounts. How many? Om Malik, on his personal blog:
Instagram, today cleaned up its proverbial act and shut down spam and bots, which resulted in a lot of people losing a substantial portion of their followers. Justin Bieber, for instance lost nearly 15 percent of his followers.
Biebs has over 20,000,000 followers on Instagram. Conservatively that’d mean he lost 3,000,000 followers when Instagram did their big delete.
I don’t know, and I don’t really care, but I’m guessing this string of news was very, very well planned out and that it will be a long time before we here about a new user milestone from Instagram.