Today, Facebook has agreed to buy photo-sharing site, Instagram, for a reported $1 billion in cash and stock in its biggest purchase to date. 

As Facebook have been focused on sharing photos since its inception, this isn’t a surprising move but it may have been unexpected for those who use Instagram as a separate service. At the moment, according to Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, the Instagram community shouldn’t be worried as it will remain its own separate entity.

In a blog post by Zuckerburg earlier today, he stated:

We believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.

That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.

We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.

Not only has Facebook acquired the company but the team as well. Instragram CEO Kevin Systrom stressed on his blog that Instragram is not going away: 

Every day that passes, we see more experiences being shared through Instagram in ways that we never thought possible. It’s because of our dedicated and talented team that we’ve gotten this far, and with the support and cross-pollination of ideas and talent at a place like Facebook, we hope to create an even more exciting future for Instagram and Facebook alike…

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.

This is definitely a milestone for Facebook and is a key indicator that they are willing to incorporate large, established communities into its portfolio. Those Zuckerberg suggests that he doesn’t plan on doing many more acquisitions of this size, who’s to say this won’t be the start of a trend.

As long as Facebook doesn’t become the social network killer (think of what happened to Flickr in the hands of Yahoo), it is only set to benefit from these types of acquisitions and become an even bigger part of our lives than it already is.