Instagram has been on a roll recently: it followed up its popular iPhone app with an Android version, agreed to sell itself to Facebook for US$1-billion and expanded its community to 80-million users. Wait, what? Yes, the team behind the photo sharing app recently announced that their community has grown to 80-million users who have shared almost four billion photos since the company started in late 2010.
But if you hop along to the Apple App Store or Google Play today, don’t be surprised if there is one less feature in your update than there was in the previous version of Instagram. According to TechCrunch, the photo sharing app no longer supports a ‘find friends on Twitter’ tool, after the microblogging service cut their access to its API. Ouch.
Ok, so you can still send your carefully framed photos of sunsets and street signs to Twitter from the app — that part hasn’t changed. But you can’t use the app to find out which of the Twitter users you follow are also using Instagram, so you can quickly track down their accounts. But they didn’t just simply remove the option from the menu — it’s still there, but if you try to use it, you’ll be met with an error message saying “Twitter no longer allows its users to access this information in Instagram via the Twitter API. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
The friend finder feature on an older version of the app (left) and the new version (right)
Neither party has said exactly why the access was revoked, but Twitter has been tightening up on how other platforms use its services recently — it also stopped LinkedIn from displaying users’ tweets on its site. Twitter has been trying to cut down on the number of third party apps that essentially mimic its official Twitter apps for a while now, recently reiterating that it will be “introducing stricter guidelines around how the Twitter API is used” in the coming weeks.
But the Instagram function they’ve cut access to doesn’t duplicate the Twitter experience, so you’ve got to wonder what happened: did they contravene one of their other API terms or could it have something to do with the fact that Instagram will soon become part of Facebook? After all, Facebook doesn’t allow Twitter to suggest which Facebook friends a user should follow — perhaps they’re just pre-empting the day when Instagram becomes part of the hoodied one‘s empire.