Instagram’s New API And Your Concerns

Last week, word travelled quickly about Instagram suddenly restricting access to its API, after industry-wide headlines about inappropriate use of user data acquired from Facebook.

We’ve gotten a few inquiries regarding how this impacts Brandwatch, so we’re answering them here on the blog for everyone to see, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted as more information becomes available.

Specifically, there are two categories of alterations:

  • Limits per Instagram account have been cut from 5,000 per hour per token to 200.
  • Data that could be used to identify an individual has been limited to prevent misuse.

1. Rate cap reduction

Your ability to use Brandwatch will not be affected in any way by this.

Instagram has restrictions on how often each linked app may poll for updates. Everyone who uses the API now has a lower limit. Instagram’s new policy is acceptable and should be adopted more widely.

For starters, it harmonises Instagram’s user cap with that of Facebook. Second, it will affect the people who have been illegally gathering information. A single Instagram account could be used to access the API and upload over 150,000 photos and videos until the platform cracked down on this practise. It’s easy to imagine how a tiny company may rapidly amass a large amount of data.

Lucky for us, we’ve never needed this massive rate cap; instead, we’ve always required Brandwatch members to link their Instagram accounts to our analytics dashboard.

As a result, we have never come close to reaching our rate restriction, and we still have room to continue our crawling pace even after these modifications have been made.

A short reminder to all Brandwatch Analytics users: please verify your account so that we can continue to support your user.

2. Restriction of Information

Brandwatch’s second set of limitations is aimed at preventing the service from being used for more generic purposes like gaining insights into consumers’ shopping habits or measuring the effectiveness of advertisements. Hence, we are still in a strong position despite the fact that we have lost some capabilities.

What, then, is changed?

  • Owned Channels (Instagram accounts owned by your brands): We can still collect all of your owned posts and related analytics to serve most of the marketing performance use cases. Although we still have access to the data included in the comments, we will need to make a little adjustment to the structure of our platform in order to do so going forward. In a few days, this will be finished, and I’ll provide an update here to let you know.
  • External channels (those belonging to other companies or influencers): Unfortunately, we are unable to continue receiving data for this application. Regrettably, based on Instagram’s pronouncements, we do not anticipate this feature’s comeback.
  • Much of our research on Instagram users’ habits is conducted with the help of the Hashtags Operator included in the Query Builder. We can still collect all tweets for specific hashtags. Several individually identifying parameters (such a user’s display name) are no longer returned by Instagram’s API, which is a tiny but acceptable adjustment. Our app is still usable for all other purposes where customer insights are useful.

I can’t stress enough how these alterations impact every service provider in the market. As new information becomes available, we will, of course, share it with you.