Instagram’s new data-sharing restrictions
Last weekend, Instagram shocked developers with a major reduction in the amount of data that they can pull from the application program interface (API). In other words, Instagram tightened up on third-party apps by decreasing developer access to user data. The API cut third-party app requests to data from 5,000 calls per user per hour to 200 calls per user per hour. That’s a 96% cut! Instagram was scheduled to depreciate their API on July 31, 2018, but they decided to take immediate action following recent insecurities in user data.
This extreme reduction is in response to the data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica collecting personal information of more than 50 million people. We can’t forget to mention that this information was collected without user permission. This is another attempt by Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, to manage this scandal. Facebook is unwilling to take chances with data privacy anymore. Last week, Facebook indicated that they would be shutting down its Partner Categories program. This program was launched in 2013 and has been used to help advertisers target third-party data ads. Additionally, Facebook plans to require that businesses confirm consent to acquire the email addresses of consumers. These email addresses are used for ad targeting through Custom Audiences. Instagram has not commented on the API change, but it seems clear that they will only continue to stiffen the API to ensure security for users.
What does this mean for the regular social media user?
There’s great news for the average social media user. Instagram will not allow developers to overrule their users on Instagram. The social media platform wants to ensure that personal information is safe. Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, they’ve decided to crack down to prevent future privacy negligence in order to regain trust and protect the users. On the other hand, you may notice that some of your third-party apps are not working correctly. They may appear not to work when you open them. If this is the case, the developers are most likely searching for workarounds in order to get the app back up and running.
What does this mean for brands and companies that use the third-party apps?
Take a minute to think about all the apps you have that monitor your social media metrics or that allow you to edit photos and export them straight to Instagram. These are the apps that are affected by the cut. Currently, third-party apps are used by marketers to keep watch on user posts, monitor complaints, and grow audiences. Additionally, these apps are used to help people and marketers if their followers follow them back. They even help us discover relevant hashtags and analyze our different audiences. However, now the apps are rapidly running into the new API limits. This not only results in broken functionality, but also angry users. With the steps taken by Facebook and Instagram to safeguard user information, marketing on these platforms will become less efficient and more complicated. At this point, we are eager to see if the current and future changes will greatly impact reach, or if it will cause brands to leave the platforms.