Since the only way to browse photos is directly through the Instagram app, unless shared by users on Twitter and other social networks, some of the app’s fans have taken it upon themselves to create third party sites that make it easier to follow the latest photos on Instagram.
Followgram was flooded with users registering to browse and interact with other Instagram users through the comfort of their browsers, to the point where they had to temporarily close registration to new users. It wasn’t long before the site was shut down by Instagram themselves for what has been labeled as a violation of their Terms & Conditions.
Instagram’s Terms & Conditions state,
You must not modify, adapt or hack Instagram or modify another website so as to falsely imply that it is associated with Instagram. You must not access Instagram’s private API by any other means other than the Instagram iPhone application itself. You must not crawl, scrape, or otherwise cache any content from Instagram including but not limited to user profiles and photos.
Essentially, since Instagram has not released a public API, Followgram, Instagram Shuffle (which is still live), and others, are accessing Instagram’s content and in the process violating their Terms & Conditions, as well as putting more strain on Instagram’s servers.
With an app that has been lauded for its sudden rise in popularity, Instagram earned itself some criticism for putting a temporary stop to Followgram, and for not having provided a similar service in the first place. But there are two sides to every story – not only are the third party sites probably affecting the Instagram servers, and in turn user experience, some may also argue that the ethics behind accessing a site’s content that does not provide a public API are clear – it’s just not done.
In fact, Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom, confirmed that the API is coming soon, replying to the thread on Quora saying
I want to say, before anything else, that we are absolutely 100% behind supporting developers that want to build on top of Instagram… soon…An API is a contract with the developer world. It says “Here’s how to interact with our system, the set of rules, guidelines, etc. that come along with it, and we promise not to change the endpoints/responses without notice.
He went on to say that Instagram had received complaints from users about Followgram displaying their content without their explicit permission.
Did Instagram do the right thing? Let us know what you think in the comments.