Instagram owes its growing role as a news service to the rise of photos as a form of communication. They’re faster to take and often easier to decode. “I think we’re at the stage right now where exchanging simple text-based messages on a social platform seems antiquated,” says Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst with eMarketer who has been covering social media and realtime marketing for more than a decade. Twitter of course carries photos, too, but, she says, “The platform is st-ill very heavily text.”

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