Understanding Instagram’s API Changes

How Instagram’s new data restrictions affect data partners like Crimson Hexagon

(Update: the “Other sources” section of this post was edited on April, 11th 2018 to provide additional information about the impact of Instagram’s API changes on the Crimson Hexagon platform)  
Yesterday, Instagram announced that it was immediately restricting access to its API, part of a larger effort by the platform and its owner, Facebook, to respond to news that political data firm Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data from millions of private Facebook accounts.
The consequences of this announcement are still coming into focus, but we wanted to explain Instagram’s statement and answer some common questions we’ve been receiving about what it means for Crimson Hexagon and its users.
To be clear, Crimson Hexagon only collects publicly available social media data that anyone can access, and has never collected private social media data. In that light, Instagram’s recent changes are meant to keep user information safe and secure, and Crimson Hexagon is in full support of these changes. Instagram’s data restrictions affect every provider in the industry, and we fully believe they’re in the best interest of our customers, and Instagram’s, and an important step in the growing push to protect private data.
In this post, we will discuss exactly what Instagram is changing, what is remaining unchanged, and how these changes affect Crimson Hexagon’s access to Instagram data and its larger mission to provide AI-Powered Consumer Insights.

What exactly is Instagram changing?

There are two main changes to Instagram’s data access for connected apps:

  • Access to Instagram’s API has decreased from 5000 API “calls” per hour, to 200 API calls per Instagram account per hour
  • Access to potentially personally identifiable data has been significantly limited

It’s important to note here that Instagram previously announced these changes and originally scheduled implementation of the changes by the end of 2018, giving providers like Crimson Hexagon the opportunity to create a smooth transition for our customers. The timeline was accelerated and the changes have instead already taken effect.
What do these two changes mean for Crimson Hexagon’s ability to analyze Instagram data?

Reduction of Instagram API rate limit

Crimson Hexagon is extremely efficient in how it works with Instagram’s API, so we don’t currently believe these changes will have a significant impact on Crimson Hexagon’s functionality.
Instagram’s new data restrictions are intended to limit data access for organizations ingesting huge volumes of personal data. Crimson Hexagon, which focuses on generalized consumer insights, will be largely unaffected by these new changes.

Other data access

There are some implications of the new policy that could affect Crimson Hexagon and its users, so we wanted to address those one by one.
CommentsWhile access to remains unchanged, comments on Instagram posts and accounts that you do not own can no longer be collected.
Accounts. Account-based collection is temporarily unavailable in our platform. Instagram has eliminated access to the publicly available data from accounts you do not own, but you will regain access to all data from your owned accounts soon.
Hashtags. You still have access to hashtag posts, but Instagram has eliminated access to the comments and the author’s name.

Our View

For Crimson Hexagon, who has always been focused on broad-based consumer insights from public data, the impact of Instagram’s restricted data access is unlikely to have a significant impact. The story is constantly evolving, so we will continue to monitor the news and provide updates as needed.
As the landscape of social media data continues to undergo changes it is more important than ever for brands to diversify the dataset they are using to understand their consumers as much as possible. Other sources of public data such as forums, blogs, news sources and review sites are now more essential than ever.

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