Instagram began as a simple digital photo app. Now, an estimated 800 million people use the social network every month – up from 500 million users in the summer of 2016. That growth is largely driven by video.
Chief Operating Officer Marne Levine is managing the expansion of the company, which is now owned by Facebook. As Instagram celebrates its seventh anniversary, "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell spoke with Levine about the measures her business is taking to keep its platform safe for users.
"So we're really focused on making sure that we maintain our kind of community that we've had. We've had a really kind, inclusive, and welcoming community," Levine said.
At a time when Instagram is growing faster than ever, Levine says the social network is focused on one core principle: kindness.
"What we have done is we have created technology for kindness – tools that allow you to feel safe on the platform. You can delete comments, filter out words that you might not want to see in your comments. We're even using machine learning to train the system to filter out the most abusive and harmful types of comments that might appear," Levine said.
But Levine says she "wouldn't call it censoring."
"We are taking out some of the words that really would be in violation of our community standards anyways. By helping to give people control over their space we feel that they'll feel more comfortable telling their stories," she said.
Instagram is taking its kindness campaign beyond the screen by creating vibrant murals in 10 cities around the world.
"We are in the business of working with other people to inspire their street art. We want to encourage having a kind, inclusive and welcoming community on Instagram, but also in the world," Levine said.
Of the 500 million people around the world who now use Instagram on any given day, 200 million post "Stories," a tool the company developed to rival its social media competitor Snapchat. As the number of users grows, so does the number of advertisers, which has doubled in just six months.
"There is political advertising on Instagram. Candidates have used it to connect with potential voters. Instagram uses the same technology that Facebook has and so you can target people on both Facebook and on Instagram to put your message out there. And that is really useful because people should understand what a candidate stands for, what a candidate is about, who that person is, what their character is like, where they stand on different issues," Levine said.
That targeting has recently caused controversy when it emerged thatto spread inflammatory messages during the 2016 campaign. Facebook revealed earlier this month that ads on their platform linked to a Russian internet agency before and after the 2016 presidential election.
Asked if the recent scrutiny of Facebook over those ads has affected the way Instagram operates, or changed the protections it has in place to avoid manipulation for a political purpose, she said, "Well, I think Mark Zuckerberg in his recent post has talked about a lot of this. He talked about the fact that we are going to be more transparent when it comes to political advertising. He's also cooperating with Congress and with the special counsel to help them understand what transpired here," she said.
Levine also addressed the culture of Silicon Valley, which has come under fire recently for its treatment of women.
"Well, I think it's really important to continue to encourage women to be a part of the tech community. When there are moreI think things will most definitely change. I think being part of Facebook, Instagram, has been an incredible experience," Levine said. " is leading the company and internally we have lots of conversations about unconscious bias."
"We have lots of conversations about supporting women and people of all different kinds of backgrounds in the workplace. I think that we have a lot of work to do and this is something that we are most definitely focused on, and I am focused on at Instagram."