Instagram's warning that Buffer and Hootsuite users had 'compromised' their accounts was an error
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
- Instagram's warning last month that users of popular third-party social media management services had broken its rules and "compromised" their Instagram accounts was a bug.
- Two of the affected companies, Buffer and Hootsuite, say the Facebook-owned app has confirmed to them that the warning messages were sent in error.
- The mistake highlights Instagram's ongoing struggles to crack down on rule-breaking and data-scraping, and how innocent companies can be caught in the crossfire.
- Business Insider has previously reported on how companies have been able to scrape millions of users' data and openly flout the photo-sharing app's rules.
Instagram's stark warning to users of popular social media management services like Buffer and Hootsuite that they had "compromised" their accounts and risked being banned was a bug, the companies affected say.
Business Insider reported in September that the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app was issuing warnings to some users, telling them that their account details were at risk and they had violated the platform's rules by using certain third-party apps.
The messages came as Instagram attempts to crack down on malicious behavior on its platform in the wake of a series of Business Insider investigations into companies that have illicitly scraped millions of Instagram users' data or otherwise flouted its rules with impunity.
But the new warnings baffled the users of the services, and the social media management companies themselves, who have strenuously denied any rule-breaking behaviour. It now appears that Instagram made a mistake: Spokespeople for both Buffer and Hootsuite have told Business Insider that the issue has been resolved, and their services are running as normal.
An Instagram spokesperson declined to comment, but Buffer and Hootsuite remain listed in its official list of Facebook Marketing Partners, an exclusive catalog of Facebook-vetted advertising and marketing firms, as does Planoly, another company whose users were affected by the warning. (Facebook has previously promptly removed companies it believes are engaged in rule-breaking behaviour from the list.) Planoly did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
The affected companies are popular among brands and media companies who use them to manage their social-media presences and marketing campaigns. Buffer, for instance, which is used by Business Insider, provides a unified dashboard to schedule posts across various social-media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Instagram's erroneous warnings are a further indicator of its ongoing struggles to accurately enforce its rules for third-party developers on its platform. They highlight how even its attempts to rectify matters can produce further mistakes, cause confusion for ordinary users, and risk damaging innocent and trusted partners' reputations.
Hailley Griffis, a spokesperson for Buffer, said: "I'm happy to report that the issues we were seeing are now fully resolved. Instagram implemented a fix for the issue and we are no longer seeing this error on our end."
A Hootsuite spokesperson said: "Hootsuite has just been alerted that the Instagram technical issue has been resolved. Facebook confirmed that some Instagram accounts were blocked in error, including those from Hootsuite users. They've since fixed the issue and have apologized for the confusion this may have caused. We appreciate your readers' patience during this time as we worked closely with Instagram to get this matter resolved."
Instagram has started to clamp down on third-party apps, issuing cease-and-desist letters to alleged rule-breakers, and kicking off a review of all of its Facebook Marketing Partners in August.
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@instagram - help, one of our instagram accounts has been listed as compromised. That account only had a connection with @buffer - is buffer classified as a breaching insta terms & conditions? pic.twitter.com/JHGyaJDxkj- Help Each Day (@help_each_day) September 10, 2019
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