Instagram bans major ad partner for scraping large amounts of user data

Andrew Cummings
August 11, 2019

"Hyp3r systematically saved users' public Instagram stories (a type of content created to vanish after 24 hours) including the individual photos that users shared in the stories, in a clear violation of Instagram's terms of service".

"HYP3R's actions were not sanctioned and violate our policies", said an Instagram spokesperson.

"We've also made a product change that should help prevent other companies from scraping public location pages in this way".

Early this year it was also revealed that influencers, celebrities and brands contact info was also being scraped and Facebook is yet to tighten up the privacy it should offer its users on Instagram especially regarding what user data third-party partners can have access to using Instagram's API.

On Tuesday, identifying a case of fraud, social networking giant Facebook sued two app developers for click injection scam that infected smartphones with malware.

Hyp3r describes itself as a "location-based marketing platform". A San Francisco startup which is an Instagram trusted partner has been illegally saving users stories and tracking their locations.

When Business Insider shared their findings with Instagram, the social network immediately confirmed that Hyp3r had violated its automated data gathering policies, sent Hyp3r a cease-and-desist letter, and banned the firm from its platform. The exact volume of scraped data isn't known, but reports say that it could cover hundreds of millions of users.

It emphasised the data Hyp3r grabbed was all public information.

'As a result, we've removed them from our platform.

But, even with such rules, the investigation shows Instagram had little protection in place to prevent this type of data collection. Hyp3r CEO Carlos Garcia said in a statement "Hyp3r is, and has always been, a company that enables authentic, delightful marketing that is compliant with consumer privacy regulations and social network Terms of Services". was unable to reach HYP3R for comment at the time of publication; an attempt to email the company instead bounces back with an error message saying it 'couldn't be delivered'. In fact, the company's CEO Carlos Garcia denied breaking Instagram's rules and said it does not view "any content or information that can not be accessed publicly by everyone online".

Henceforth, Instagram has shut down access to the location pages unless a user logs into the service.

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