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Blog post
June 24, 2019

More changes to social media API’s, the latest from Instagram

It’s been a whirlwind year trying to keep up with the various changes made by social media platforms – especially for professional communicators, developers, agencies, and brands.

At the same time as understanding and usage of the term ‘API’ has accelerated across offices worldwide, social media platforms have begun to restrict access to their application programming interfaces (APIs). With implications ranging from global politics to individual user privacy, that trend is showing no signs of stopping.

API changes have been introduced in order to reduce risks around data privacy, security concerns for users and stamping out improper use of user data.

Most of the changes can be categorised as:

  1. How often and how much data can be requested (rate limit reductions); and
  2. Type of data available (restrictions on user-identifiable data)

Generally, these are positive changes for the whole ecosystem. Users can be reassured at an individual level that there are more controls in place and consideration given to matters of privacy and the prevention of misuse. Facebook’s ‘Here Together’ video, released in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica data breach, reflects some of this desired messaging and the drives for these changes.

The latest changes have come from Instagram and more are set to be introduced on 11 Dec 2018.

Here’s how the changes impact the three types of Instagram analysis:

  • Owned media (for your brands’ own Instagram accounts): Better data on your owned Instagram profiles, but they need to be Instagram business profiles and you have to authenticate to access this data.
  • Public accounts (for other brands or influencer’s channels): This use case no longer exists for Instagram – there is no longer any data available for public Instagram accounts you don’t own.
  • Listening: Public hashtag listening on Instagram is no longer supported. Brands will need to move to brand mentions, photo tags and related hashtags.


These may not be the last of the changes, but they are necessary growing pains to regain user trust and provide higher quality authentic engagements. For small businesses and influencers these changes are fairly straightforward – however for those looking to manage communications or marketing strategies they present new challenges in order to stay informed.

These changes apply across the board so all API users will need to jump the same hoops and prove that both privacy measures are met and use of data is acceptable. If you’re interested, you can learn more about the official changes from Instagram read on here.

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With more than 1 billion users on Facebook, and millions more active on sites such as YouTube and Twitter, it has become obvious that social media is an important platform for businesses.

Connecting with the huge variety of consumers already on these sites can open up significant opportunities for marketing and lead generation. Additionally, social media monitoring provides insight and understanding into how your industry, audience and competitors are reacting to market trends and products.

As well as giving businesses and consumers a platform to share their thoughts and participate in ongoing conversations, social media is also a channel through which many people access news stories and important information.

A recent study from Pew Research found that 64 per cent of adults are active on Facebook, and 30 per cent are using the site to receive news. This means that approximately half of the people using Facebook trust the site to deliver their news.

Similarly, 16 per cent of US adults are active on Twitter, with exactly half of those (8 per cent) accessing the news through tweets.

Not only are users reading news on social media, but they are also participating in the sharing and telling of stories. Half of all social network users have shared news stories on their own profiles and a further 46 per cent have discussed news on social media.

However, while social networking sites are a popular media through which to access news, Pew Research found that users on these sites spend significantly less time engaging with the news they read.

Readers who visit news stories directly through a provider's website spend an average of 4 minutes and 36 seconds on each page. In comparison, those who arrive through a link on Facebook spend just 1 minute 41 seconds reading the page.

This shows that while news is being shared and read on social media sites, engagement is significantly greater when consumers go out of their way to access the stories.

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Developers rush to patch

In the wake of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal, there have been a myriad of changes impacting users of Facebook and Instagram content recently. These changes were made without any notice and were effective immediately which has impacted third-party apps worldwide.

Albeit the speed in which the changes have been made is likely to have been partly driven by the pressure to tighten data practices and potentially align certain timing as CEO Mark Zuckerberg prepares to testify before Congress next week to answer questions about the company’s privacy and data policies.From the perspective of everyday users accessing the content you know and love via the Facebook and Instagram apps will see little to no change. For developers like us on the other hand, the impacts are significant and are only a hint of what is yet to come.In case you missed it, the changes made have been many and impact all third-party apps, whether legitimate or not.

Given the changes have been quick, varied and came without prior notification, we’ve pulled together a quick summary of a few that left developers and other third-party content users of these content feeds frustrated:

Instagram have removed 17 ways of accessing content

This means something as simple as code to access recent posts of a public company, suddenly stopped working. Quick changes had to be made to use alternative methods.

Facebook & Instagram have removed access to many fields

Fields like how many followers a user has, or how many posts you have made, but many more have gone.

25x drop in Instagram content

The Instagram API restricted the flow of content by 25x, meaning that public posts previously being collected has been reduced significantly, requiring different approaches to be taken that are more efficient.

These are only a few of the changes that have happened with more expect in future. With CTO Mike Schroepfer commenting that they will lock down access, review previously allowed apps, and then hand out access to the apps that deserve it.

While this is promising from the perspective that Facebook is taking action to breath some confidence back into their data practices, it will still be interesting to see how they now start to crack down on third-party apps that are using and abusing content. With the advent of AI and machine learning, the content which appeared innocuous can now be exploited and abused in the wrong hands. That means Facebook is forcing all apps that have previously been approved for accessing Events, Groups and Pages, have to be reviewed again.

For the developers working on these changes behind the scenes, it's a difficult process but something we monitor constantly to ensure the client experience is supported, and uncompromised. While at times frustrating, it’s also fascinating to watch the complexities of today's interconnected environment play, shift and unfold.

Ian Young,
Isentia Technical Architect

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As the spotlight on sustainability intensifies year by year, it has become a focal point for legislators, media entities, and audiences worldwide.

This dynamic environment demands that brands and institutions elevate their standards in messaging and actions, holding them accountable like never before. For professionals in the PR & Comms realm, it is imperative to grasp not only how sustainability is being discussed but also the potential pitfalls, such as greenwashing, and gain a profound understanding of the diverse audiences receiving these messages.

Explore over 20 beautifully crafted pages of data visualisation that illuminate audience insights sourced from social media, news outlets, and search engines. Gain valuable perspectives on how one of the defining issues of our time is being discussed and understood.

Our exploration of this crucial topic delves deep into uncovering insights that are indispensable for crafting effective strategies, both tactical and long-term:

-Unraveling trends in the sustainability conversation

-Assessing brand & industry reputations

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