Instagram Begins Cutting Off Developers from User Data as Facebook Clamps Down on Privacy

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says it will likely take several years to fix problems at the social network uncovered by the recent data scandal

Instagram has reportedly begun cutting off developers access to the app’s API — the set of tools third-party programs use to communicate with the platform — as Facebook attempts to clamp down on privacy issues.

TechCrunch reports that many apps developers are alleging that their access to Instagram’s API is being randomly shut off. Third-party apps that link to Instagram, such as those used to generate follower analytics, have reportedly stopped working as there has been a massive reduction in how much data these apps are allowed to pull from the Instagram API. The API limit has reportedly been shrunk from 5,000 to 200 calls per user per hour.

Two sources confirmed the issues to TechCrunch and many developers have been complaining about the issue on StackOverflow. Instagram has so far refused to comment on the issue while the developer rate limits documentation site no longer works. It appears that Instagram, like Facebook, is no longer accepting submissions for new apps, this decision has left many developers angry and upset that they were not informed of the sudden change to rules. Developers claim that if they had been alerted, they could have modified their apps to perform fewer API calls.

Many believe that this is the result of Instagram parent company Facebook clamping down on security following their most recent user data scandal in which a rogue third-party app was used to gain access to the data of 50 million users without their permission. Facebook recently announced that they were shutting down Partner Categories ad targeting and allegedly have plans to require businesses to pledge that they have users consent to access their email addresses.

Instagram stated in January that they would be shutting down their old API and that apps would no longer be able to pull a user’s follower list and follow or unfollow users on their behalf as of July 31, giving developers ample time to update their apps. But this latest change was not announced to developers, essentially Instagram is breaking old apps while preventing new apps from being submitted.

An app developer spoke to TechCrunch saying “Instagram’s lack of communication is frustrating to me because now I’m scrambling to update my apps and dealing with loads of unhappy customers. If I had had a month to prep for this, I could’ve tweaked things so that limit was harder to reach. I’d be more frugal with my requests. What happened is all of a sudden, I’m getting dozens of emails, DMs on Instagram, with people saying the app’s not working.”


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