Why can’t we be friends? (4 MIN)

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It seems that looking back on our blog post 13 Broken Tags (4 min read), it’s clear now that the cracks were beginning to show in our early stage relationship with Instagram even before then.

We were using Instagram’s free limited API access to allow our system at Qwids to scan and see when a user had posted to the Instagram platform from a Qwids mission. Once our system could confirm that a post was indeed made, the reward was issued to the user from the associated brand that published that mission.

For the reward mechanism to trigger smoothly and almost instantly, we had to scan Instagram for the correct associated hashtags, we at Qwids would then match the hashtag with the Qwids user and the brand on the Qwids platform, the action of rewarding qwids would then be fulfilled. Sounds simple, right? It was, until strange things started to happen (or not happen) with some of the hashtags we had in-use with some live missions. See 13 Broken Tags (4 min read)

At the start of the year Instagram did announce that they would be making changes to their algorithm and starting to build out their advertising platform, you may have noticed that every tenth post on Instagram is a paid advertisement, how do you feel about that?

At the time of hearing this news we were not so concerned as they stated on their site “the API will be still supported for older apps” and as we had already been hooked up to the Instagram API since the middle of 2015 and we’re already starting down the path of partnership when the API started to show cracks.

The following text message highlights our CTO’s ongoing concerns:

 @rich @all we might have a problem with Instagram…

Apparently (I’m still trying to make sense of everything) they are even locking down more of their data than they said initially when they came up with that app review process. They changed the restrictions and descriptions of their api and methods we are currently relying on are nowhere to be found in the documentation anymore although (as I understood it) they should be still supported for older apps… Of course I didn’t receive a single message from them about that….

My feeling grows that they simply do not want this kind of activity on their platform and it kind of makes sense given that they belong to Facebook and Facebook also doesn’t allow it. There are also some points on the terms of use which sounds problematic (https://www.instagram.com/about/legal/terms/api/ points 26, 28, 33) If all that is correct we will have to resort to a model like what we had in mind for Facebook. 

As you can see, trying to work with such behemoths as Instagram can be a real challenge, especially when they keep moving the goalposts like they consistently seem to do. This, coupled with their absolute impenetrable customer services department leaves us with no choice but to disconnect the Instagram channel as of now. It’s super unfortunate we have to do so, but it is out of our hands at this point, it’s no use to have a mission channel that doesn’t reward users their qwids consistently, who knows, perhaps in the future the goalposts will move again, perhaps in all of our favour.

We at Qwids are sad to see Instagram disconnected and hope very much we can make a partnership work in the future, for now however, we are focused on finding new channels and alternative methods that will work with Qwids long term.

As a last ditch effort I emailed one of the Co-Founders of Instagram. 

Hey Kevin, we are a small startup based in Stockholm, we have been working on what we think is a pretty cool service called Qwids. We have been using the Instagram API and have been super excited at the possibilities going forward. We now have numerous customers lining up to start using Qwids and are aiming to launch in the summertime, but right now (when it really matters) we are beginning to have issues with the Instagram API, after using it for nearly 12 months it has become somewhat unreliable, with hashtags frequently breaking, the rate limits, and now a change in terms of use and a lockdown of the API methods we have come to rely on. Our development team has repeatedly tried to reach out to customer support with no joy, and this is why as a last resort i am writing to you.

Going forward we will be integrating numerous social networks and due to the cross-connectivity our platform provides we truly believe Instagram would benefit from having a presence on the Qwids service. This is a direct plea from the founder of an early stage startup to please have a conversation with us. We just know you are going to love the Qwids service as it’s all about sharing great content, and has the capacity to completely disrupt traditional forms of marketing and advertising, something a lot of agencies are looking for right now.

If this email resonates at all with you, please help us get in touch.

Rich Tella

Qwids Founder
Stockholm, Sweden