The Instagram API is Changing: Here’s What It Means for You
Last week, Facebook and Instagram made major changes to their APIs in an effort to protect your data and privacy. Almost every company that does business on Instagram was affected by these changes, whether it was a shopping app or an analytics app.
You’ve probably noticed that seemingly overnight, many of your Instagram apps don’t work the same anymore, and many don’t work at all. This is because Instagram has shut down their public API, which many apps depend on, sooner than originally planned.
The good news is that we are happy to say that there will only be a minimal impact on Later’s features, mainly around commenting, reposting, or mentioning usernames.
If you want to understand the full impact of Instagram’s API shutdown and what it means for you, keep reading:
What is the Instagram API?
Confused about what exactly the Instagram API is? The Instagram API (short for “application program interface”) is essentially a way for apps to talk to and interact with Instagram.
For example, at Later, we use the Instagram API for a number of our features. Because we’re an Instagram partner, we use the private Instagram Graph API, which allows us to create features around scheduling, commenting, and analytics.
Here’s What Changed with the Instagram API
Instagram’s recent changes to their API were a surprise, but it wasn’t a total shock. Earlier this year, Instagram announced a new Instagram Graph API, along with plans to “deprecate” (or retire) the older Instagram API on July 31, 2018.
Even though they knew it was going away, many companies were still using the public Instagram API and hadn’t planned to update their apps until the deadline.
So when Instagram suddenly restricted access to the public API without warning last week, it left many third-party apps broken.
The changes that Instagram had announced back in January went into effect immediately, and that’s why you’re noticing some changes to the apps you use.
Note: Later has access to the public Instagram API until April 30th, which is when you’ll notice some minor changes to our features.
What Instagram’s API Changes Mean For You
So what does all of this mean for you?
If you use any apps connected to Instagram, you’ll definitely notice a few changes, and some may not work at all. Because the new Instagram Graph API is much more restrictive than the older Instagram API platform, many apps that haven’t been approved by Instagram to use the new API suddenly lost their ability to access the API altogether.
However, the changes have also affected apps that have been approved by Instagram — although the impact is much less severe. Depending on the app, some features might have a more limited capacity while others could be shut off entirely.
Here’s some common changes that you’ll notice on Instagram:
First off, Instagram bots are officially dead. If you’re using any bots to follow and unfollow accounts for you, or like Instagram posts for you, they won’t work anymore. To get around this, some Instagram bots may be using a hacked version of the Instagram API, which we don’t recommend using. You might see lower engagement over the next few weeks, but now you can trust that most of the engagement and followers you get are real.
Your Instagram “likes” will now be private only to you, and other companies won’t be able to tell what posts you have liked or not. This has mainly affected a lot of shopping apps that helped you keep track of items you were interested in purchasing via your Instagram “likes.”
If you’re using any apps to analyze your Instagram followers, or someone else’s followers, these will no longer work. This mainly affects analytics companies that would give you information about your follower demographics or how quickly you gained/lost followers. This also affects any apps that would show you when someone unfollowed you.
For example, if you were using an app or service to evaluate whether an influencer’s followers were real or not, you won’t be able to do that anymore.
Another major change is that personal accounts won’t be able to post or delete comments from anywhere except the Instagram API. If you want to use community management features like Later’s Conversations, you’ll need to switch to an Instagram business profile.
If you’re a brand who uses apps to search for user-generated content on Instagram, like Later’s Search & Repost feature, you will be a bit more limited now. Instead of searching by users or posts you have liked, you can now only search by hashtag.
You can learn more about the minor changes coming to Later here.
Here’s all the technical details about what features (aka API endpoints) are now gone:
It’s important to note that Facebook has also made sweeping changes to the Facebook APIs as well. For example, if you’re using a third-party app to schedule Facebook posts, you will no longer be able to tag other Facebook pages. You can learn more about those changes here.
So, why all the sudden changes?
Some have speculated that the early retirement of Instagram’s API endpoints is a reaction to the public pressure surrounding Facebook about private data as of late.
Instagram itself alluded to this in their announcement on April 4th, saying “To continuously improve Instagram users’ privacy and security, we are accelerating the deprecation of Instagram API Platform.”
So while the changes will certainly impact many types of legitimate and responsible businesses, they’re also a boon for personal privacy as they reduce the potential for abuse.
Editor’s note: Here at Later, we’re committed to always keeping your Instagram account safe and secure. We support Facebook and Instagram’s changes and think they are a good move for both Later, Facebook, and Instagram users. Feel free to reach out with any questions you might have at firstname.lastname@example.org