Instagram has broken several unofficial apps built on its platform without warning. This weekend it surprised the developers with a huge reduction in the quantity of data they could pull from the Instagram API, diminishing the API limit from 5,000 to 200 calls per user per hour. The apps that allowed users to know whether their followers follow them back or have interactions with them, analyze their audiences or discover relevant hashtags are now running quickly into their API limits, resulting in broken functionality and pissed off users.
Instagram is denying commenting on what is happening while its developer rate limits documentation site 404s. Everything it would confirm is that the app has ended accepting submissions of new apps, just as last week Facebook announced it would. Some of the developers suspect that the change is a part of Instagram parent company Facebook’s scramble to enhance data privacy in the wake of its non-stop string of data scandals. Last week, Facebook announced that it was shutting down Partner Categories ad targeting on the basis of third-party data brokers.
Many public backlashes have targeted on #DeleteFacebook and ignored its subsidiaries such as WhatsApp and Instagram. But Instagram might hope to prevent the virus of distrust from affecting its app too by cutting the API call limit to 1/25th of its earlier volume. Causing such type of platform whiplash can push the developers away from the Instagram ecosystem, not that the company was very keen on some of these apps. For an instance, Reports+ charges 3.99 dollars per month, to give the people analytics about their Instagram followers. Reports+ has grossed around 18 million dollars globally since October 2016 on the Google Play and App Store and made more than 1.2 million dollars alone in the last month.
These apps might have seemed parasitic to Instagram, charging the users for unofficial functionality or vitalizing the audience growth hacking, which could result in spam. In the month of January, Instagram announced that over the next two years, it would shut down the old API, starting with eliminating the ability to pull the follower list of a user and follow/ unfollow people on their behalf on 31st July. Instagram slowly has been trying for years to clean up its platform, having previously threatened legal actions against derivative apps with “Insta” or “Gram” in their names in the year 2013, and close its feed API in the year 2015 that permitted for unofficial Instagram feed-reading apps.
The app now is pushing the developers to a more restrictive platform that allows only the approved partners post at the users’ behest, and that could only pull mentions of and analytics regarding the business accounts. The changes were slated to kill many apps broken by the API limit reduction of this weekend.
But at least the developers were extended fair warning about the 31st July deadline. The issue is aggravated by the fact that last Monday Facebook put a cease on the review of any new applications as it tries to prop up the data privacy safeguards because of the Cambridge Analytica. Instagram confirmed that the moratorium on app submissions extends to its new Graph API, but did not explain anything regarding the API limits. Hence Instagram is breaking the old apps while not letting the developers submit new, compliant ones.