With ‘selfie’ being named the word of the year, it is undeniable the effect social picture sharing has had on the social networking community. In 2013, approximately 300 million photos were uploaded to Facebook each day (that’s 500+ terabytes of data). More than 40 million photos are uploaded to Instagram (owned by Facebook) each day, and nearly 4 billion photos have been shared on Instagram since its beginning three years ago.

With today’s announcement of Instagram Direct, it is clear picture sharing is the hot thing in social networking right now. Twitter also recently debuted the ability to share pictures through direct messages. Snapchat is still hot in the game too, recently turning down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook and raising $50 million in funding from a single investor.

According to the Instagram blog post regarding today’s announcement, “Instagram has evolved from a community of photographers into a visual communication platform. From a photo of your daily coffee to a sunrise shared from the top of a mountain hike, every Instagram moment constains something you find special – something you broadcast to your followers when you tap ‘share.’”

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How is this or Direct Messaging pictures in Twitter much different than sending pictures to each other via text? It isn’t really, but it does make it easier to share with people whom you barely know. These networks benefit by keeping you in their ecosystem longer, hoping to monetize and get more ad revenue from you. In terms of privacy, you do not have to have someone’s cell phone number to send them messages. Anyone can broadcast their life events to the public, or through “private” messaging. Privacy concerns? Not for most teenagers.

instagram facebook use teenagers 2013In 2013, Instagram use grew 5% amongst teenagers while Facebook use decreased 9%. Nine out of 10 teenagers have used social media; 61% of teenagers use Tumblr, 55% use Facebook, 22% use Twitter, 21% use Instagram and 13% use SnapChat. Do teenagers care about privacy? Only approximately 60% of teenagers have their social media profiles set to private. Shockingly 13% of teenagers stream video live to the Internet for others to watch. In the posts on social networking sites by teenagers, 91% post photos of themselves 71% list their school name, 71% post about what city/town they live in, 53% post their email addresses and 20% list their cell phone number.

The whole premise of social networking is being open, sharing information and developing relationships with people across the country or across the world, whom you never would have been able to make contact with before. While there are certainly risks involved, it is clear that is not a concern for many. Networks like Twitter and Instagram are giving their users what they want, easier and more efficient ways to share pictures and are keeping users on their platforms longer in an attempt to monetize.

Social data from MediaBistro’s AllTwitter.