Instagram gets Facebook-style web profiles for photos

Screengrab, Instagram has become one of the most popular social media services

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Instagram, a photo-sharing app recently purchased by social network Facebook, has extended from mobile devices to the web.

The move will allow people to share their pictures via PCs rather than just iOS and Android-powered smartphones and tablets.

Facebook said the facility would make it easier for users to discover each others' photos.

But privacy campaigners have raised concerns about the implications.

As might be expected, Instagram's new web-based profiles resemble the design of Facebook's pages.

They feature a profile image and short biography of each user above a grid showing their recent photo uploads.

For the time being members will only be able to view and download images from the service.

"Instagram is focused on the production of photos from mobile devices so users are not currently able to upload from the web," Facebook said in a statement.

Despite this limitation the move should help boost the service's popularity by making it accessible to more people than before.

That, in turn, might make Facebook's environment more appealing to marketers. The firm highlights Nike's Instagram web profile as an example of the new feature at work.

Privacy concerns

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has gained more than 100 million registered users, becoming one of the most popular social media services.

Facebook bought the app using its own shares. They were worth about $1bn (£625m) at the time, although they have since fallen in value.

The company has been keen to stress that users can restrict who has access to their uploads.

But Nick Pickles, from Big Brother Watch, expressed concern that the facility would make it easier for users to copy and spread potentially embarrassing photos allowing them to go viral.

"A web-based service makes it easier to collect lots of information about people using the service and also makes it easier for people to share photos their friends post," he said.

"Clearly both of these issues raise privacy questions, and time will tell if the company really has any desire to address them."

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