Creator of popular Instagram app that harvested user details: ‘It was not a good idea’

Creator of popular Instagram app that harvested user details: ‘It was not a good idea’

The creator of an Instagram-related app downloaded hundreds of thousands of times on iOS and Android devices has responded to criticism that it was harvesting user data and sending it to an undisclosed location by saying that it was a mistake.

The explanation posted online says that the problem arose due to an unpublished experimental feature that would allow users to unlock full access to the app in exchange for sharing a photo on Instagram that promoted InstaAgent. As it stands, the app lets you see the last three people to check out your Instagram profile, but you need to pay to unlock the full list.

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The unedited explanation follows:

“When you login application with your account, application examines your photos about who likes your photos most and who comment most. This people are the best visitors for your profile in theory. There is no 100 percent guarantee and we have stated this in application markets meta description.

You can see first three users in this list for free but you had to pay to see the other users. But we have an alternative way for our users to see all list for free. If you accept to share a photo which promote our application, you could see the whole list for free. But it was not a good idea. We build this module for debug mode.[Sic] “

The app couldn’t offer the planned feature, as Instagram doesn’t allow private APIs for third-parties.

There’s a lesson here for indie app developers – if you start getting any traction at all, it’s best to make damn sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row.

It’s hard to win the trust of users once. Winning it twice is virtually impossible.

➤ Issue Explanation about InstaAgent App for our precious users [ZunaMedia via BBC]

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