Without warning, Instagram has broken many of the unofficial apps built on its platform. This weekend it surprised developers with a massive reduction in how much data they can pull from the Instagram API, shrinking the API limit from 5,000 to 200 calls per user per hour. Apps that help people figure out if their followers follow them back or interact with them, analyze their audiences or find relevant hashtags are now quickly running into their API limits, leading to broken functionality and pissed off users. Two sources confirmed the new limits to TechCrunch, and developers are complaining about the situation on StackOverflow. In a puzzling move, Instagram is refusing to comment on what’s happening while its developer rate limits documentation site 404s. Developers tell me they feel left in the dark and angry that the change wasn’t scheduled or even officially announced, preventing them from rebuilding their apps to require fewer API calls. Third-party Instagram platform apps like Reports+ provide users analytics on their audiences, but are breaking due to the new API limits Some developers suspect the change is part of Instagram parent company Facebook’s scramble to improve data privacy in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In the past week, Facebook announced it was shutting down Partner Categories ad targeting based on third-party data brokers. TechCrunch reported that Facebook also plans to require businesses to pledge that they have consumers’ consent to attain their email addresses, which they use for ad targeting through Custom Audiences. Most public backlash has focused on #DeleteFacebook and ignored its subsidiaries like Instagram and WhatsApp. But Instagram may hope to prevent the virus of distrust from infecting its app too by cutting the API call limit to 1/25th of its previous volume. Causing this kind of platform whiplash could push developers away from the Instagram ecosystem, not that the company was too keen on some of these apps. For example, Reports+ charges $3.99 per month to give people analytics about their Instagram followers. Sensor Tower tells TechCrunch that Reports+ has grossed more than $18 million worldwide since October 2016 on the App Store and Google Play, and made more than $1.2 million last month alone. Instagram might have understandably seen these apps as parasitic, charging users for unofficial functionality or encouraging audience growth hacking that can lead to spam. In January, Instagram announced it would shut down the old API over the…

Source: TechCrunch – Social Instagram suddenly chokes off developers as Facebook chases privacy