Facebook Restricts Instagram Data Access. What Does it Mean?


Are Facebook’s recent changes to Instagram data access changes getting you down? Depending on what data you need, things may not be that bad. Read on to learn our perspective at Rival IQ.

On Wednesday April 4th, Facebook moved to restrict data access to various parts of their platform, most notably many parts of the Instagram’s platform API. In an update blog post, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer described the Instagram change and the other eight areas Facebook is tightening access, including changes to the APIs for Events, Groups, and Pages. If you’re wondering what all of this means for you, fellow digital marketer, I think it’s useful to explain more fully what these changes to the Instagram Platform API mean.

How surprising was this move?

To begin, Facebook announced in January of 2018 that they were going to deprecate (end) support for pieces of their legacy Instagram Platform API. In July, they were scheduled to remove access to data about followed and followed-by users. In December, they were scheduled to remove access to the ability to read public profile and post content. That latter piece sentence about not being able to read public profile and post content is the thing that caught our eye at Rival IQ, since this is how we help you track Instagram data in your landscapes.

It is important to remember that when Facebook released this deprecation notice, they had already released the Instagram Graph API, meant to be a replacement for some of the legacy functionality in the Instagram Platform API. In their deprecation notice, they reminded developers:

“If your application supports Instagram business profile users, we highly encourage you to begin building on the Instagram Graph API immediately if you have not done so already.”

With this set of changes, Facebook is aligning the relationship between 3rd-party developers, users, and businesses on Instagram to more closely mirror how Facebook works. For much of recent history, basic analytics for Facebook Business Pages have been available via API, and deeper analytics have been available to page owners via the Insights API. Through the new Instagram Graph API, similar level of analytics for Instagram Business Profiles are available.

If I’m a Rival IQ customer, what’s it all mean?

At Rival IQ, our product is all about tracking public entities in the form of businesses, universities, public figures, etc. For our customers, these changes mean that going forward, we’ll be able to track Business Profiles on Instagram in your landscapes, similar to how we’ve always done. Since our beginning, we’ve only tracked Facebook Business Pages and not individuals. We’ll now fully apply that business-only model of data ingestion to Instagram as well. If you have been tracking Instagram users that do not have business profiles, we’ll be unable to ingest data for those users from now on.

Facebook, in their update post, also discussed future changes to other Facebook APIs. One key step they’re taking is to review existing app providers that consume a wide range of APIs. Rival IQ, like all analytics providers in the digital marketing space, will be required to be re-reviewed during the next 90 days. We’re not anticipating any issues at this time regarding the already-announced future changes.

Of course, with the ongoing fallout from the scandal regarding Cambridge Analytica, Facebook is working hard to convince their users that they believe privacy and data security are important. Any of us in the social media space would be foolish to think that the world won’t continue to evolve. We’re committed to data privacy and the ethical use of data, and though we were frustrated by the timing and lack of notice regarding the recent changes, the reasoning behind the changes makes sense.

As always, we’re here to help you through the evolution of the market, particularly as it pertains to analytics and data. Don’t hesitate to be in touch. We’d love to talk more about the opportunities ahead. If have any questions, I’d encourage you to get in touch with us by email ( support@rivaliq.com ) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/rivaliq).

Seth Bridges

Hey there, I'm Seth, one of the co-founders of Rival IQ, where I stay busy working on product design and marketing! When I'm not working, I'm probably playing with my sons. Follow me on Twitter for rantings and opinions on all the things.

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