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Instagram Suddenly Chokes Off Developers As Facebook Chases Privacy (techcrunch.com) 61

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Without warning, Instagram has broken many of the unofficial apps built on its platform. This weekend it surprised developers with a massive reduction in how much data they can pull from the Instagram API, shrinking the API limit from 5,000 to 200 calls per user per hour. Apps that help people figure out if their followers follow them back or interact with them, analyze their audiences or find relevant hashtags are now quickly running into their API limits, leading to broken functionality and pissed off users. Two sources confirmed the new limits to TechCrunch, and developers are complaining about the situation on StackOverflow. In a puzzling move, Instagram is refusing to comment on what's happening while its developer rate limits documentation site 404s. All it would confirm is that Instagram has stopped accepting submissions of new apps, just as Facebook announced it would last week following backlash over Cambridge Analytica. Developers tell me they feel left in the dark and angry that the change wasn't scheduled or even officially announced, preventing them from rebuilding their apps to require fewer API calls.
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Instagram Suddenly Chokes Off Developers As Facebook Chases Privacy

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is what you get when you build off an closed-ecosystem API. Fuckerberg only cares about his shekels not you measly plebes. #DeleteFacebook #DeleteInstagram #FuckTheZuck

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      200 calls per user per hour

      Should be 200 per year. 200 per hour is absurd.

      Apps that help people figure out if their followers follow them back or interact with them, analyze their audiences or find relevant hashtags

      Stupidity at an unprecidented level.

      • So I guess they're back to spidering and scraping?

        If my browser can see it, I can collect it.

        I'm not 'defending this', but restricting the API just moves the activity back to grey areas. Truth: I have, years ago when I could outrageously overcharge for such simple shit, occasionally made a few bucks scraping data. Mostly companies collecting data on their competitors who made upwise website configuration decisions. Not 'hacking' per se, just 'walking' through an open no password 'login' a couple of hun

      • by Maritz ( 1829006 )

        Stupidity at an unprecidented level.

        Unprecedented.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wonder how much privacy violations it was pulling. Last thing you want is a Zuckerberg company reading your fucking heart rate too.

  • Oh no (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 03, 2018 @09:08AM (#56372173)

    The users that game the algorithm to grow a follower count instead of attracting followers organically are pissed off.

    No, sorry, I have to try again, I think I started laughing there.

  • by Kunedog ( 1033226 ) on Tuesday April 03, 2018 @09:12AM (#56372187)

    Apps that help people figure out if their followers follow them

    Nothing of value of was lost.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is useful information due to the Follow/Unfollow habit of many follower seeking users. Knowing this info influenced my decision to quit Instagram - its fakeness and competition driven nature left a sour taste in my mouth. I'm a photographer, not a social media hound.

      • This is useful information due to the Follow/Unfollow habit of many follower seeking users.

        I don't use IG and I still don't understand. Could you explain this?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 03, 2018 @10:09AM (#56372445)

          More info here - https://www.coffeewithsummer.com/blogging-social/stop-follow-unfollow/

          Basically it is a slimy tactic to trick users in to following back, "friending back", and once that is done, the original user will unfollow. This results in a +1 follower for them, and over time it makes a person's account look like they're an influencer because they might have 10x more followers than the amount of users they follow. To the untrained, it also has the charm of seeming like validation - when someone with few followers follows YOU it makes you think wow, they're awesome AND they like me! But then they just unfollow you shortly afterwards and the con moves on to the next target.

          There are sites that will do this automatically/programmatically for fee as well.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          It's quite simple. You sign up for some 'app' and give it your IG login and maybe a bunch of hash tags to monitor. Then it 'follows' every single person who uses one of those hash tags in the hopes that they just follow you back. The thing is the app unfollows everyone one to two days later, playing on the fact you'll probably never unfollow them in return due to forgetfulness.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      For some definitions of "value", but for people who make serious money off Instagram it matters. And those are the people Instagram needs to remain popular and generate revenue.

      Which is all very good news, because it tells us that Instagram must be taking privacy seriously if they are willing to risk some profits over it. We can only hope this is the start of a major shift towards better privacy.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        FWIW, Instagram doesn't directly monetize social influencers -- a lot of the influencer marketing activity that occurs on Instagram is direct between brands and the people themselves. This isn't cutting off their nose to spite their face (and assuredly Facebook will work in that market space to capture some of those dollars) but from Instagram's perspective this isn't a particularly damaging problem revenue-wise.

      • by Desler ( 1608317 )

        Facebook taking privacy seriously? Hahahahahahahahaha. Good joke.

        • You don't get it. When facebook sells that data that's just fine, everything operating as designed. When someone else resells the data or even worse, collects it without paying and then sells it, that's bad.

      • by DogDude ( 805747 )
        Hahahahahahahahaha.... They're protecting their revenue stream, as you said. It has nothing to do with privacy.
  • And... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DeplorableCodeMonkey ( 4828467 ) on Tuesday April 03, 2018 @09:13AM (#56372195)

    Apps that help people figure out if their followers follow them back or interact with them, analyze their audiences or find relevant hashtags are now quickly running into their API limits

    Nothing of value was lost on the platform...

    These are features that Instagram should have been providing already instead of leading to a data broker-friendly situation.

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      These are features that Instagram should have been providing already instead of leading to a data broker-friendly situation.

      The data brokers are their customers. That's who they want to be friendly to. They couldn't give two shits about the users, so long as the users keep giving them all of their data for free.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Modern appy app apps use Appstagram's AppyI, NOT LUDDITE API!

    Apps!

  • https://web.archive.org/web/20180305181559/https://www.instagram.com/developer/limits/

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Tuesday April 03, 2018 @09:51AM (#56372369)
    If you build your business on someone else's API, you're gonna have a bad day (when the API owners figure out how you're making money and decide to make it themselves). That's why "participating in an application marketplace" is usually a suckers bet unless that marketplace is OS wide (like Google Play, iTunes, (does Microsoft have a store up yet?), etc.)
  • by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Tuesday April 03, 2018 @09:59AM (#56372399)
    Stock price is down 22% in the last week...what can we do to stop it? I know! We'll yank permissions from one of our other properties without warning and people will instantly trust us again. What could possibly go wrong?
    • by Ecuador ( 740021 )

      And the property that most people did not associate with us in the first place, and was pretty much "getting away with it"!
      "Yeah, I closed my FB account, besides, who needs it when we have Instagram!"

  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Tuesday April 03, 2018 @10:09AM (#56372447)

    Facebook is taking it on the chin for that "security breach" by a company working for the Trump campaign and now EVERYBODY is running scared. How nice..

    Why is this? Are we *really* that hopped up on political intrigues that everybody has to position themselves as "unbiased platforms" regardless of the consequences?

    Who in their right mind ever thought that what they posted on any social media platform was "safe" from data mining operations? I know nobody reads the EULA, TOS or even the privacy policy every time it changes, but give me a break. Why are folks all upset now?

    Asking for a friend..

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      working for the Trump campaign

      This is what amuses me to no end. Suddenly all the journalists care about privacy? No, they don't give a shit about that. This is all just because they have such a hate boner for Trump. When Obama's campaign harvested data off Facebook it was just modern, "groundbreaking" campaigning, nothing to see here.

    • Why are folks all upset now?
      I guess everyone guesses that there are some "data protection" or "privacy" laws.
      But there are not.

      I mean ... in your fucked up country.

      • by trg83 ( 555416 )
        I think the key word there was 'now'. I know why people should be upset about privacy abuses, and I myself am upset about them, but I think the parent was trying to point out the silliness of caring about privacy situationally based on completely unrelated factors like who is President.
      • My point really was that if you cared about privacy, DON'T post on social media stuff you wish to keep private. You don't want your data harvested and used for something, don't put it in places you don't absolutely control who gets to see it and use it. (Basically, that means DON'T put anything up there unless you are OK with it being public, because it might just become public and you cannot stop it..)

        Like it or not, privacy policies or even privacy laws are NOT going to keep your stuff private. In fact,

    • by adosch ( 1397357 )

      Absolutely. I'm just as taken back as the rest of the sane-minded folk who aren't in shock-and-awe of this quick movement to say we're more secure and less intrusive than the other platform over there. It's simply narrow minded that everything was done in your best interest as an end-user in social media platform situations.

      You can't stop the Big Machine. Heck, you can't even hope to contain it anymore [wikiquote.org] (God bless you, Dan Patrick). This is all just smoke-and-mirrors to save investor stock and dividends,

  • Updated documentation is available in another location:
    https://developers.facebook.co... [facebook.com]

    This is still a big change without warning though.

  • Who cares?

    Koolaid went bad. Smart folks are off the app if not entirely off anything Facebook owns.

    Who could ever think they could entrust their privacy - ever, again?

  • If you're so narcissistic that you need to constantly monitor how many followers you have, you need to die in a fire.
  • So people should now trust Instagram because NOW after Facebook has been found out because Instagram started limited some of the extensive data gathering they've been doing on "users" for years?

    What this tells me is that *ANY* Zuckerberg production is completely untrustworthy with carefully crafted terms of service designed to keep "the product" from running away.

    Cattlemen, like Zuckerberg, are very fond of their herds right up to and particularly after the cattle are sold at market.

    https://en.wikiquote.or [wikiquote.org]

Ya'll hear about the geometer who went to the beach to catch some rays and became a tangent ?

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