Photo-sharing application Instagram has overtaken rival social network Twitter after announcing that it now has more than 300m users worldwide.

The San Francisco-based firm has seen its number of active accounts boom in recent months, taking it beyond Twitter's 282m users.

Bought by social media giant Facebook for $1bn (€640m) in 2012, the free app allows users to take, modify and share pictures and videos.

Instagram Chief Executive Kevin Systrom said: "We're proud to announce that there are now more than 300 million 'Instagrammers'.

"Over the past four years, what began as two friends with a dream has grown into a global community that shares more than 70 million photos and videos each day."

Mr Systrom also said the social network would be rolling out verified badges for celebrities, athletes and brands similar to the Twitter tick.

He claimed this would make it easier for users to find authentic accounts and pledged to keep Instagram free from spam accounts.

"We've been deactivating spammy accounts from Instagram on an ongoing basis to improve your experience," he said.

"As part of this effort, we will be deleting these accounts forever, so they will no longer be included in follower counts. This means that some of you will see a change in your follower count."

Shares in Twitter have fallen 41% this year amid mounting concerns over slow user growth.

Facebook, which has 1.35bn active monthly users of its own, has by contrast seen its stock rise by 42%.

The company led by Mark Zuckerberg also owns the WhatsApp messaging service, which has 600m users.

Instagram was created by Mr Systrom and Mike Krieger, and launched in October 2010.

It rapidly gained popularity and by April 2012 it had reached over 100m active users.