Credit: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Facebook is acquiring popular photo-sharing app Instagram for approximately $1 billion in a combination of cash and shares, the social network announced today. The sale is expected to close later this quarter.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a statement on the deal on his Facebook page:

“For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.”

Zuckerberg also made it clear that Facebook plans to play to the photo app’s strengths, saying that Facebook is “committed to building and growing Instagram independently rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.”

The popular app allows users to alter photos taken on their cell phones with special effects, and then share them. Kevin Systrom, the CEO of the company, also issued a statement on Instagram’s site reaffirming that the app will maintain its identity. “The Instagram app will still be the same one you know and love,” he said. “We’ll be working with Facebook to evolve Instagram and build the network. We’ll continue to add new features to the product and find new ways to create a better mobile photos experience.”

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