In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, Instagram (read Facebook) is tightening up its security measures around third-party apps. These restrictions will place limits on how much data that the third party apps can retrieve, and now often. You might not be aware, but there are some third-party apps that do things like search for hashtags and analyze your followers. These apps rely on an Instagram API (application programming interface), which is basically a way for the app to connect to the platform.
Instagram has reportedly blocked some developers from being able to use the API at all, or they have severely limited the amount of data available to some others. But let’s talk about what data a third party can access through the Instagram API. Rather, let’s discuss what this could do. In the Cambridge Analytica scenario, they took the information that you had on your Facebook profile, and they were able to use that in order to help get Donald Trump elected president. (Allegedly) Does your Instagram profile have that same kind of information on it? Mine doesn’t, but I’m not saying it makes me completely immune. What I am saying is that I wonder if this is all for show?
Let me expand on that for a moment. Facebook owns Instagram. Facebook is in hot water over the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Facebook uses this as an opportunity to demonstrate that they’re doing something about their privacy and security measures. But is it enough? In my opinion, the answer is no. All they’re doing is shifting their solution to another platform and waving their hands in the air saying – look, Mom, I’m over here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this is a bad idea. This is something that should have been done a long time ago, but I am a skeptical person and I think there is more to this than what we’re seeing on the surface.
Getting back to these restrictions though. Instagram is limiting developers access to the API. This has been “planned” for a long time now, but they decided to speed it up a bit. Their original date to have this done by was 2020. Hence my skepticism. This is now available suddenly. And very quickly after Facebook has been getting bombarded in the news with all kinds of bad press. Their site does say that it’s in part a response to tighten up their security measures, but it’s because now Facebook has a policy on what to do. Read between the lines – why wasn’t this in place before? Why is it taking until 2020, originally, to get this kind of system in place?
Instagram is part of Facebook, so they do need to be cognizant of the potential issues that their API’s have when it comes to third-party developers. But I think all technology companies should. Even the biggest and the best out there. Someone needs to think about these things before it’s too late, and we have successfully elected your crazy uncle Ronald as President.