Instagram API Lock: How your Automated Tool Will Fail You in 2018

Colten GillBlog, NewsLeave a Comment

instagram api blocked social media evidence tools
Learn how the Facebook Privacy Crisis and Instagram API Changes Will Affect your Current Workflow

You’ve done it: you’ve found a subject’s pseudonym and online alias, you’ve loaded their (public) Facebook, and you find their Instagram account that breaks the timeline they’re suggesting. You are ready to preserve your social media evidence! so, you add their account information into your favorite automated collection software, when – nothing. “User key not defined – Instagram API error” is all that you’re able to load. No amount of refreshing, restarting, and retyping the username will fix it.

What’s causing these limitations in the Instagram API ?

With the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal still strong over at Facebook (which owns Instagram), the company took some decidedly harsh and abrupt actions in an attempt to protect user privacy. Over the course of the last few weeks, Facebook deprecated (or “retired”) features of its Application Program Interface (API). The Instagram API is what’s used by different collection apps to share data and interact with Instagram. By removing access to this, collection apps are no longer able to download your social media evidence! You are no longer able to preserve images, save metadata, and sometimes even find out whether or not an account is currently active and online.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the changes enacted, it does not look like these vital features will be restored to automated collecting software anytime soon.

How can I get around this to start collecting social media evidence again?

To bypass technology challenges in social media evidence collection, it’s important to partner with experts who are able to work around them. SMI Aware provides its customers with a full-suite of services provided by an expert team of in-house certified social media investigation analysts. When automated tools fail, our experts have the trade-craft and expertise required to collected and preserve the online and social media evidence you need. Additionally, partnering with SMI Aware allows your firm to free up your paralegals, researchers, and librarians from the time-intensive task of discovering user information and trying to manually save data from online sources.

Our trained Preservation Analysts are able to manually capture the HTML source code and metadata behind an Instagram account and ensure that your social media evidence is defensible in court. We collect and preserve a visual representation of the original Instagram – including timestamps, locations, and comments – while safeguarding a defensible product that is in line with rules of evidence, saving you money and effort while getting you the evidence you need.