On Wednesday, April 4th, 2018, Instagram made immediate changes to their API without notification to the developer community. The actual changes themselves had been announced as coming over the course of the next year, but it appears that because of the scrutiny that Facebook is currently facing that these changes were accelerated without warning. These changes have had a significant impact on countless apps that interact with Instagram, including the SocialToaster platform.
Why Did Instagram Make These Changes?
It is largely speculation at this point, but it appears to be related to the scrutiny that Facebook is under relating to user privacy and data issues. There are numerous articles commenting on the current situation, including this one from Business Insider (http://www.businessinsider.com/instagram-barely-gave-developers-notice-about-api-data-sharing-changes-2018-4) and this one from TechCrunch (https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/02/instagram-api-limit/). The stated reason on the Instagram developer site is “To continuously improve Instagram users’ privacy and security…” (https://www.instagram.com/developer/).
What Does This Have To Do With My SocialToaster Program?
When the change was initially made it impacted countless applications that interact with Instagram and Facebook. For example, even the well-known dating app Tinder was down. SocialToaster was similarly impacted, and for the first few hours following the change the integration with Instagram was broken.
Our developers responded quickly, and fortunately we were able to restore a significant amount of Instagram functionality. This includes the primary functionality related to running Instagram challenges. Based on the information that Instagram has published, we believe that this core functionality will continue to be available. Unfortunately, the changes that Instagram made were sweeping enough that there are several features and functions which are currently not available.
What Has Been Impacted?
The following functionality has been impacted by the changes:
Like / Follows
Logged in users will no longer be able to Follow your Instagram account from inside the SocialToaster portal—they will have to log directly into Instagram to be able to do this.
Related to this, we will no longer be able to tell if a user has Followed your Instagram account.
Pic Entry Engagement
We can no longer identify individual likes on a particular post, we can only determine a total count of likes.
We can no longer identify individual comments on a post, we can only determine a count of all comments, as a result we can no longer reliably award points for this activity.
We can no longer manually add a pic entry.
Users can no longer Follow an Instagram account from inside the SocialToaster platform.
We can no longer pull posts from public accounts without the access token from the owner of the account.
We can no longer track or award users points if they like or comment on your Instagram feed.
Commenting on Posts from Pic Challenge Review Page
It is no longer possible to comment on a post from inside the SocialToaster platform.
What is Not Changing?
Users can still connect their personal Instagram account to SocialToaster.
We can still track when a user posts to their own personal Instagram account and can read the post to check for a hashtag and keywords, which enables us to still run Instagram pic challenges.
Pending Updates to SocialToaster
Our development team is working diligently to update the overall SocialToaster integration with Instagram to minimize as much as possible the impact that these changes have had. We are also exploring new ideas and new mechanisms to leverage Instagram and help increase engagement. The following are examples updates that we are making to help minimize the impact of the updates:
Changing the “Follow” button in the sign-up process, on the Likes / Follows block, and on the Earn Points page launch Instagram directly in a new window to enable users to continue to engage.
We’re making a number of changes to the Admin section to account for what we will be able to award points for moving forward, but one update will enable an administrator to authenticate your corporate Instagram accounts, which will allow us to continue to automatically pull new items and engagement.
Sample Messaging to Provide to Users
We have provide you with the following sample message that you may elect to share with your end-users to notify them of the pending changes:
This week Instagram made a number of significant changes to how 3rd-party platforms are able to interact with their system. These changes are focused on increasing user privacy, and as such have limited some of the data that external systems are able to access. As a result, you may notice that there are some features associated with how our program integrates with Instagram that are no longer available. Most significantly, you may observe that you are no longer able to earn points for comments on your post, and that clicking on certain links from within our portal will now launch Instagram directly to allow you to complete the desired activity. We appreciate you continued engagement and support, and are working diligently to ensure that you have a wonderful experience with our program.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to your account manager or email us at email@example.com.