Instagram bans ad partner for improperly collecting user data

San Francisco marketing company scraped MILLIONS of users' data from Instagram

Instagram kick off Hyp3r for taking advantage of security lapse that allows scraping various user data such as bios, stories, and location.

Hyp3r collected the data stored in Instagram Stories which are created to disappear within 24 hours unless archived by the user. After this, Hyp3r publicly welcomed Instagram's API changes. The report blames Instagram for "lax oversight", while others believe the blamed lies squarely on Hyp3r for finding a way to bypass Instagram's API updates.

It concerns a United States marketing company called Hyp3r, which was an official "Facebook Marketing Partner" right up until yesterday, when the status was removed following an investigation published by Business Insider.

Instagram has banned one of its major ad partners for scraping large amounts of user data.

Europeans seem certain to have been affected by the data scraping; sources say Hyp3r harvested data from "geofenced" locations around the world, and marketing material released by hotel chain Marriott, one of its customers, said it "surfaces all public social posts shared by on-property guests across our entire portfolio of hotels worldwide".

More news: Man Accused Of Attacking Boy For 'Disrespecting' National Anthem - CBS DC

Instagram-owner Facebook has been under scrutiny since the revelation past year that consultancy Cambridge Analytica had misused Facebook user data in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Cambridge Analytica was found to have exploited Facebook APIs to download the data of millions of Facebook users, resulting in a scandal that saw Facebook investigated, sued and in some cases fined. However, this latest discovery - which an Instagram spokesperson said was "not sanctioned and violates our policies" could move the magnifying glass over the photo-sharing app.

The BBC has contacted Hyp3r but the company has not yet responded to a request for comment.

What's more: HYP3R was featured on Facebook's rather exclusive list of Facebook Marketing Partners, which is a directory of supposedly vetted companies that "can give you superior insights and data for better marketing decisions". "As a result, we've removed them from our platform".

"Hyp3r is, and has always been, a company that enables legit, savory marketing that is compliant with consumer privacy laws and social network Terms of Products and services".

But, even with such rules, the investigation shows Instagram had little protection in place to prevent this type of data collection. "We do not view any content or information that can not be accessed publicly by everyone online".

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