Q&A: Facebook & Instagram API changes

Posted by James Geary on Tue, 17 Apr, 2018

Facebook has recently implemented a number of sudden API changes which are affecting both Facebook and Instagram services. This Q&A highlights the background to this and how it might affect your use of Crisp’s services.

What has happened?

Following the issues raised by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which used Facebook data, and the ensuing media and political interest, Facebook has taken steps to tighten up privacy for users of both the Facebook and Instagram platforms.

These changes were initially planned by Facebook as a two-year deprecation program, which was originally scheduled to start July 31st. Crisp has been developing new systems to accommodate these privacy changes. However, current events forced Facebook to implement the changes overnight and without warning, leaving Crisp and all other third-party providers without access to Instagram API.

Despite the immediate effect of Facebook’s abrupt API changes, Crisp has worked quickly to implement effective workarounds, allowing us to collect limited data from our clients’ Instagram pages.

What changes have been made to the Instagram API?

1) Rate limiting:
The first change to the API (the method we use to collect data from Instagram) was that Facebook significantly limited the data available from the Instagram API to just 200 requests per hour per Instagram account (down from 5000 requests per hour previously).

This rate limiting has affected Crisp’s monitoring and moderation services. Crisp identifies new comments on social channels within minutes of them being posted. To identify these new comments as fast as possible, we make repeated ‘requests’ for data from the API. By limiting our requests, this has severely impacted on our ability to access all the required data on Instagram pages quickly. 

2) Data restrictions
Instagram followed this by removing support for a number of API endpoints with immediate effect, and without any forewarning to Developers. For Crisp customers the impact was that Instagram removed the ability to remove content via the API, so we could not moderate Instagram pages for a time.

The collection of Instagram tags was also prevented, which meant we could not monitor for mentions of brands on Instagram, but we are still providing our wider web monitoring service.

How Crisp is addressing the issue

As Facebook continues to make unannounced API changes, Crisp is quickly implementing effective workarounds so we can collect the required data from our clients’ Instagram pages and reinstate the affected moderation and monitoring services.

We now have a full solution for comment collection already in place for when Facebook resumes access to Instagram API services.

Are there any changes to the Facebook API?

There have been some more focused changes made to the Facebook API which has prevented Crisp from collecting data on Events, and may limit our ability to collect DMs. As of April 19, a further change to the API has been made which is impacting on our ability to access avatar images.

Current Service Status

Service Current Status Next Steps
Instagram Posts and Comments Moderation

We have instigated an initial fix for this for all pages, but due to a bug with Instagram's new Graph API we are still experiencing approximately 30-minute delays in comment collection. 

High volume pages may also continue to experience more significant delays in comment collection and moderation. For extreme high volumes/spam attacks, not all comments will be collected. 

Crisp is working on a full solution to restore collection times to previous levels. Progress on this has been significantly slowed due to a bug with Instagram's new graph API.
Instagram Tags Monitoring We are unable to collect ‘tags’ which means we cannot monitor for brand mentions on Instagram. We are currently reviewing the best solution for reinstating this protection.
Facebook DMs We are still able to collect direct messages sent to brands. However when reauthorizing an access token for an existing page, this access will be lost. Facebook may have set tokens to auto-expire after 90 days (we are confirming this). Reauthorizing tokens however is an essential process as it is required for us to be able to collect data from Facebook.

Crisp will confirm Facebook's auto-expire settings.

Please continue to reauthorize tokens upon request.

Crisp will continue to review alternative solutions for reinstating this protection.

Facebook Events  API access to events which brands post on Facebook has been fully removed. This means that we cannot moderate comments or monitor for mentions relating to a brand on any events.  We are reviewing alternative solutions for reinstating this protection.
Facebook Avatar Images API access to avatar images has been removed. This means that we cannot moderate profile pictures for inappropriate images. We are reviewing alternative solutions for reinstating this service.

 

What can you do now?

We have sent all customers an email requesting the reauthorization of a new access token for Instagram. This token will give automatic access to our solutions as we roll them out.

Your questions, answered

Is this the last of Facebook’s changes?

Unfortunately no. Facebook’s statement says “We expect to make more changes over the coming months”, however we hope that - with some forewarning - we will be able to provide fast and effective solutions without further interruptions to your Crisp service.

What do we need to do to reinstate Crisp’s monitoring and moderation services?

If you haven't already, please reauthorize a new Instagram (Graph) access token to Crisp. As we implement more fixes, you will automatically start receiving these features once again. Please also continue authorizing access tokens for Facebook upon request.

If you haven't received an email from Crisp requesting you to reauthorize access tokens or you have a question about how to do this, please email our Helpdesk: help@crispthinking.com

What can Crisp moderate at the moment?

We were able to moderate all comments being left by users on your Instagram and Facebook posts and adverts soon after access was revoked. Most inappropriate and risky comments are now being removed within 30 minutes of them being posted.  However pages with high volumes of comments may continue to be affected.

Who can we talk to at Crisp?

If you have any questions, your nominated Account Manager will be able to share the latest information while it is being updated here. As this affects every one of our clients, our team will not be able to provide individual solutions, but can continue to offer advice.

Timeline:

  • March 31: Instagram reduces hourly rate limits from 5000 to 200

  • April 4: Crisp releases an update to enable comments to be received faster

  • April 4: Facebook removes access to Events and page DMs

  • April 5: Instagram disables comment removal via Instagram APIs

  • April 9: Crisp adds support for comment removal via Facebook Graph API

  • April 13: Crisp adds support for collection of Instagram comments using Facebook services

  • April 13: Facebook breaks ability to subscribe to notifications of new Instagram content on customer pages due to a bug 

  • April 17: Crisp continues to develop solutions to the issues caused by the API changes

  • April 19: Facebook removes ability to collect avatar images

Facebook will continue to make changes over the coming months so we will update this timeline as new information is released.

James Geary

Written by James Geary

James is Crisp's SVP of Operations and Engineering.

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