Instagram changes API to focus on privacy

In a somewhat unexpected – but not surprising – move, Instagram has altered its API’s, limiting the amount of user data that developers can collect. It also seems to completely cut off some developers, as the photo sharing platform aims to protect the privacy of its users. The move seems to be part of Facebook’s efforts with damage control, after the backlash over Cambridge Analytics.

The API limits have severely cut the amount of data calls that a developer can make. Essentially that’s the amount of times an app can request data, which is now reduced to 200 calls per hour, down from the previous 5,000. This forces developers to be specific about the data they want, as opposed to taking all that they can get.

Developers aren’t too happy about the move, as it’s caused many of their apps to break. Making matters worse, Instagram made the changes without any prior warning to developers. “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,” one developer told TechCrunch. “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.”

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The company did recently announce that it would apply limits to its API that would no longer allow apps to pull follow/unfollow from users. It was planned for July 31st, and is actually part of Instagram’s efforts to shut down their old API over the next couple years. It seems the #DeleteFacebook movement has sped up their plans, as Facebook tries to make amends and gain back user trust. And while the movement hasn’t really spilled over into Instagram or WhatsApp, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Developers may not be happy about the move, but it should appease users that the company is taking privacy seriously. It’ll also limit the amount of ‘unofficial’ apps built on Instagram’s platform, which the company no doubt looks forward to.

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