In a shocking move over the Easter Holiday weekend, Instagram decided to reduce API access to 3rd party app developers. Instagrams’ API limit was reduced to a mere 200 API calls per hour, a shockingly low number, considering that before the weekend the API limit was set at 5000 calls per hour. Without any official warnings, Instagram has broken many of the unofficial apps built on its platform. To make things even weirder, Instagram is refusing to comment on this situation while its developer rate limits documentation page is offline. The developer section only confirms that Instagram (for now) has quit accepting submissions for new applications. This sudden API change left plenty of developers angry, as the change wasn’t scheduled or even announced, preventing them from rebuilding their application to require fewer API calls.
What could be the reason behind this sudden move? For starters, Facebook is currently in hot water for a plethora of reasons. But, developers speculate that the main reason behind this API reduction is the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook is under pressure for the recent privacy fiasco, and last week the company announced a witchhunt after apps that expose or misuse user data obtained via its platform. While Instagram wasn’t mentioned in this witchhunt, since it’s a Facebook company, it’s only natural they include it in their restructuring. Such a drastic reduction in API calls could push developers away from Instagram, not that the company was too keen on some of these apps, anyway. Instagram sees most of the 3rd party applications as parasitic, charging users for unofficial functionality or encouraging audience growth hacking that can lead to spam.
For now, you can expect a lot of your favorite apps to be offline for a while, and even if they do come back, they may never work the same way they used to, due to these new API restrictions.