For several years, Instagram was proudly a mobile-only service — there was no web portal, and the company rarely sent users any email for any reason. Since being purchased by Facebook, however, that's begun to change a bit — the service added web-accessible profiles last year, and now Buzzfeed is reporting that Instagram is sending email notifications to a user when their Instagram username is mentioned in a post. There's no doubt that this is a very Facebook-esque behavior, and it's a change that some users might be annoyed by, particularly if they get a lot of mentions on Instagram.
On the other hand, it could be useful for users who try to minimize alerts on their mobile device, but it does mark the next bit of Instagram's ongoing change of strategy away from its mobile-only roots. It's not clear exactly how widely this feature has rolled out yet, but we'd expect users to start seeing these notifications in the coming days. We've reached out to Facebook to get more details on the new email notifications and will update with any new info we hear.
Update: Facebook wrote in to let us know that, despite the Buzzfeed article, nothing has changed with regards to emails that Instagram users receive. Instagram only sends emails when a user chooses to share their photo through email — a feature that has been built into the service for some time. Facebook was quite clear that no new email notifications are being sent from Instagram.