Instagram Announces Deprecation of API, Rollout of Graph API

February 3, 2018


Ian is the founder of Arias & Thompson Digital, an Estonian eResident, and a frontend developer.

The Instagram API has undergone extensive changes in the last two years. Starting with the platform update in June of 2016 that revoked access to a number of apps and limited access to a specific number of use cases, Instagram is now moving ahead with a whole scale transfer of their native API to Facebook’s Graph API.

Accessing Instagram’s API in 2018

Access to Instagram’s API is based on scope:

  • Basic – your own media
  • Public Content – other people’s public info and media
  • Followers List – list of who follows who
  • Comments – post and delete comments
  • Relationships – to follow and unfollow
  • Likes – like and unlike media

As of June 2016 all scopes except for basic required developers to submit their application for a permissions review to match one of Instagram’s use case scenarios. We underwent this process with our Instagram Research App, and it is extensive. The implementation of the review process broke well known websites such as Unfollowgram and the useful plugin Instafeed.js.

The changes are going to be rolled out gradually for developers working with Instagram’s API. On July 31, 2018, access to a user’s Follower List, Relationships and the ability to post and delete comments on public posts will be deprecated.

Following in December of 2018, the ability to use the API to comment on one’s own public media, read public content, like or unlike media or receive notifications will be removed. The only access that will be left (and only until 2020) is the basic scope that allows users to read their own profile info and media.

As of now, no new applications for review are being accepted meaning if you do not have an application that has been previously approved, you have missed the boat.

The Launch of the Instagram Graph API

As of now there is an alternative to Instagram’s former API as they have launched Instagram’s Graph API. This will allow developers to interact with business accounts on Instagram, enabling users to read profile information, insights and comment moderation.

What it does not do is allow users to interact with non-business profiles. Individual accounts that make up the bulk of Instagram users are not slated to be included in the Instagram API until early 2019.

The close reader will notice the discrepancy here: the old API ends in 2018, but access to individual or non-business profiles will not be supported until 2019. This will affect developers trying to produce apps for non-business accounts or those businesses who wish to interact not just with their own media but with those from their following (unless the business profile was tagged or mentioned).

What You Can Still Do With the Instagram API Now

Since the basic scope of Instagram’s API will be available into early 2020, users will still be able to embed a list of their recent media (up to 20 posts) on their websites. We haven’t found any other real purpose for this in the past, however, if you can think of others than please let us know in the comments.