There are over 30 billion photos on Instagram, with 70 million new ones being added every day. One of the only ways to wade through the ocean of images with any sort of success is through search, and Instagram is finally providing that feature to its Web users.
Users who visit Instagram via desktop instead of the native mobile app will now be able to search by hashtags, profiles, and locations. Instagram has also added landing pages for hashtags and geotags, which will provide a glimpse at the top posts by location and hashtag.
The addition of search continues the expansion of Instagram for Web, which has been getting a considerable amount of attention lately. A design overhaul earlier this year gave the desktop experience a new coat of paint and cleaner, clutter-free look. It was also the Web platform that gave away Instagram’s plans for high definition photos.
Instagram is still a mobile-first service, but it’s hard not to acknowledge the impact the Web has. Embeddable images have become a driving force for traffic; TechCrunch reported Instagram claimed embeds generate 5.3 billion impressions.
Search for the desktop iteration of the photo sharing service doesn’t just increase the reach of Instagram photos but positions them to become a relevant, real-time source for on-the-scene photos and videos.
The same way Twitter becomes a source for news and dissemination of facts as a story breaks, Instagram can have a similar impact with multimedia. Being able to search a hashtag or location and get up-to-the-second updates from people could provide images before news crews and the lenses of traditional media reach the scene.
It also may push some people to set their content to private now that it’s all the more searchable and findable, drawing more people to bombard photos with particular tags with toxic comments in the same way groups flood Twitter hashtags. That’s tradeoff of making things easier to find; there’s no filter for the kinds of people utilizing it.