How Instagram Rose Into a Cultural Powerhouse

When Justin Bieber posted on Instagram for the first time in July 2011, he did not enthrall his army of fans with a shirtless selfie or a meticulously planned photo shoot.

He just wanted to complain about traffic in Los Angeles.

Out of focus. Mundane scenery. Not particularly artful. No matter. These were the early days of Instagram, before smartphones included cameras that could produce higher quality images than the point-and-shoots of yore.

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