If one of the unofficial, third-party Instagram apps you’ve been using suddenly stopped working properly, it might be because the platform has limited their access to user data in a surprise change to its API. The photo-sharing platform has apparently reduced the number of times developers can pull data from Instagram’s API from 5,000 calls per hour to 200 calls per hour. It even cut off some apps’ access to its API entirely. Based on discussions posted on Twitter and developer Q&A website Stack Overflow, the change rolled out on Friday last week — TechCrunch has also confirmed the new limits from a couple of sources.
Those limits mean that apps and developers that need to pull data all the time — such as those in customer service and apps that analyze hashtags or make sure the people you follow are following you back — won’t be able to do their job. Once they hit their limit, then they won’t work anymore. As Recode notes, the limits also mean that third-party developers will only have access to a fraction of users’ data going forward, and that might be what Instagram intends to happen in the first place.
Instagram’s parent company has been reeling from the backlash caused by the revelation that Cambridge Analytica harvested data from over 50 million people’s accounts. Since it’s always had plans to restrict developers’ access by 2020 anyway, it might have decided to move things up a bit in an effort to prevent the same thing from happening or perhaps to show users that it cares about their privacy. That is, if this isn’t just a trial period or a mistake. Unfortunately, Instagram hasn’t officially announced the changes, has refused to comment about the issue and seems to be playing its cards close to its chest.