- Do you have a broken Instagram app made by a third-party developer? You’re not alone, as Instagram instituted a new policy yesterday that reduces third-party API access.
- Instagram gave no warning to developers that a change to API access was coming, which has developers scrambling to adapt.
- If you have a broken Instagram app made by a third-party, the best thing you can do right now is limit your usage to drop the number of API requests.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal has brought massive amounts of heat down on Facebook, but so far the backlash hasn’t affected the two major brands that the social media giant owns: Instagram and WhatsApp.
In a likely move to stay ahead of the game, Instagram decided late yesterday, without any warning, to drastically limit third-party apps that use Instagram APIs to access your account information. Instagram didn’t remove API access entirely, but simply reduced the amount of requests apps can make to four percent of the original limit — from 5,000 to 200 calls per user per hour. The result is a lot of broken Instagram app problems around the world.
To be clear, this API limitation does not affect the main Instagram app. Nothing has changed there — at least not yet, anyway. What this change does affect is the dozens of extremely popular apps that use Instagram data through the openly-available Instagram APIs. An example would be Reports Plus, which is a paid service that gives users precise analytical data about their Instagram followers.
Unfortunately for third-party apps like Reports Plus, Instagram limiting API access came without any advance notice, which created a customer service nightmare for a lot of developers.
With such limited access to API requests, power users of third-party apps will see error messages and loss of functionality.
An anonymous developer who uses Instagram APIs said, “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.”
Further frustrating matters is the fact that Instagram hasn’t made a statement about the change in policy. No warning prior and no discussion afterward creates a pretty hostile environment for developers who depend on Instagram for their apps’ success.
This isn’t the first time Instagram has drawn the ire of app developers. In 2015, the company shut down its feed API, which enabled developers to create Instagram app clones. Instead of downloading the official Instagram app, you could download a third-party app that let you scroll through your feed like usual, but using a different UI experience. Instagram claimed not many apps used the feed API, so its removal would have little impact. However, what most likely really happened is that third-party apps don’t earn Instagram ad revenue, so they had to go.
Since the company is mum so far on yesterday’s API change, there’s no telling how long it will be before your third-party apps get full functionality again. In the meantime, the best thing you can do is limit your use of the apps so you are making fewer API requests and will thus be less likely to see an error message.