Instagram surpasses 2 billion monthly users while powering through a year of turmoil

Instagram’s addictive content has U.S. lawmakers so concerned that Adam Mosseri, CEO of the social media service, was dragged to Congress for the first time last week, the latest incident in a year of turmoil at the photo-sharing app.

But despite that controversy, Instagram reached a new milestone of 2 billion monthly active users this fall, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The topic of Mosseri’s hearing before a Senate Commerce subcommittee was child protection online, an issue that’s battered Instagram’s image in the past few months.

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri testifies at a US Senate hearing in Washington, DC, on December 8, 2021.

Even with all the negative publicity, the hugely popular app is more critical than ever to the fate of its parent company, now called Meta.

Instagram hasn’t made its user numbers public since it crossed the 1 billion monthly active users mark in June 2018, and it has avoided touting its growth at a time when legislators and regulators already see Facebook as having outsized market control. It took eight years to cross that threshold and only three years to clear 2 billion MAUs.

Employees, who asked not to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak on the matter, told CNBC they learned of the 2 billion users number in internal conversations. One person said Instagram reached the figure about a week before Facebook changed its name to Meta in October.

A company spokesperson declined to comment.

Instagram launched in 2010 and was acquired by Facebook for about $1 billion two years later, as the centerpiece of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s effort to move from the web to mobile.