Instagram And Facebook Say Abrupt API Changes Tied To Broader Privacy Concerns

Facebook’s newsroom page does NOT want to load for me – the loading circle thingie just spins and spins in Chrome – so I can’t read the company’s statement about why its Instagram wing made abrupt changes to its API yesterday that broke the functionality on a lot of third-party Instagram applications, including social media visualizations for digital signs.

It is a problem for Tint, and based on a tweet up this morning, for the digital signage industry’s most subscribed content feed service, Screenfeed. My guess is several companies have developers guzzling coffee and going cross-eyed today, while others have it sorted out.

Here’s what MacRumors has:

Along with multiple privacy-related API changes being made to Facebook, Facebook, which owns Instagram, announced that it has disabled several Instagram Platform APIs as of today, disabling certain Instagram features that are available in third-party Instagram apps. 

Third-party Instagram apps will no longer be able to use APIs that provide access to follower lists, likes, relationships, and public comments.

To continuously improve Instagram users’ privacy and security, we are accelerating the deprecation of Instagram API Platform, making the following changes effective immediately. We understand that this may affect your business or services, and we appreciate your support in keeping our platform secure.

In the future, other APIs will be disabled. Starting on December 11, 2018, Instagram will no longer allow apps to read public content, and in early 2020, apps will not be able to read a user’s own profile info and media. These APIs are all part of Instagram’s older platform, and it has already been working towards transferring developers to a newer, more restrictive platform. 

As TechCrunch points out, Instagram had originally planned on deprecating the APIs in July and December of 2018, but suddenly moved the timetable forward in the wake of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. While the remaining APIs won’t be disabled fully until 2020, Instagram has implemented rate limit reductions on them as of last weekend to limit access. 

Instagram previously allowed 5,000 API calls per user per hour, a number that has been cut down to 200. 

Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes

Editor/Founder at Sixteen:Nine
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than a decade. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He's based near Toronto.
Dave Haynes

@sixteennine

12+ year-old blog and podcast about digital signage & related tech, written by industry consultant, analyst & bullshit filter Dave Haynes.
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3 thoughts on “Instagram And Facebook Say Abrupt API Changes Tied To Broader Privacy Concerns

  1. Earlier this morning the Screenfeed Social Apps dashboard was updated to meet the new Instagram API limitations. Instagram’s changes effected less than 25% of those using Screenfeed’s Social Apps (and of course didn’t effect anyone using our other content feeds).

    While reviewing this we found it was interesting to look at the percentage of use between Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I’m happy to share. 44% Facebook, 47% used Twitter and 36% used Instagram. It totals more than 100% as our app allows you to use content from multiple social media accounts in one feed. I was surprised to see Instagram used the least.

    Going forward, I expect to see more use of Facebook’s API for business pages with this change. We don’t get into event-type social media walls, but if your company does that I expect to leverage Twitter more.

  2. Enplug’s Instagram Photo Wall App has always been one of the most popular content types on our App Market (https://www.enplug.com/apps/instagram-wall/). As such, we’ve been keeping a close eye on their changing stance towards third-party integrations for a while. Our team thought that changes like this might be coming, and prepared ahead of time.

    We’re happy to say that Enplug users are unaffected by the new changes at this time – our Instagram and Facebook integrations are fully functioning just as before.

    We hope that Instagram will see the value that third-party integrations like digital signage can provide in drawing more users to interact with their platform and in showcasing the communities that businesses have fostered on Instagram.

  3. We’ve updated our Social Media app to meet the new Instagram API changes, and have kept our users up-to-date with these modifications. We’re also happy to announce that the majority of our customers who use the app for digital signage and who own their Instagram account will not be affected at all.

    Echoing the comment above we’re optimistic that Facebook and Instagram will realise the value the digital signage industry brings to their platform in helping companies bring together their communities.

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