There are plenty of sites that seem to grab/crawl public profiles form Instagram, e.g. Socialblade, Instastatistics, or Likeometer.

What I read from Instagram’s TOC is that this is violating these TOCs, esp.

You must not access Instagram's private API by any other means other than the Instagram application itself. You must not crawl, scrape, or otherwise cache any content from Instagram including but not limited to user profiles and photos.

So, are all these sites operating illegally?

  • There is an important distinction between "illegal" which usually means in violation of criminal law (e.g. "illegal drugs") and a violation of contract, which is a civil matter. However in the US creative interpretations of the CFAA have muddied the water on "unauthorised" computer access. eff.org/issues/cfaa – Paul Johnson May 13 '19 at 8:44
  • Socialbade tracks metrics, but to my knowledge, it doesn't actually copy a profile of a user in it's tracking, does it? – hszmv May 13 '19 at 17:14
  • @hszmv that’s already violating their TOS. – user3612643 May 13 '19 at 17:15
  • @user3612643 With all due respect, that neither answers my question and there are ways to perform these actions without violating TOS. – hszmv May 13 '19 at 17:18
  • @hszmv which ways? – user3612643 May 13 '19 at 17:19

Each service of those services may have a legal agreement in place with Instagram and can crawl and scrape legally. Read the TOS for each of those services; they may state that they have a licensing agreement with Instagram, but any such agreements may also be confidential.

On the other hand, those sites might be operating illegally, and Instagram 1) may have chosen not to pursue legal action because those services are in jurisdictions where legal action is difficult or expensive; or, 2) Instagram may feel like they benefit from the illegal scraping that nonetheless results in more traffic for them, so they ignore the illegality while still stating in their TOS that scraping is illegal.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.