Media & Entertainment

Instagram starts blocking ‘add me’ deeplinking for Snapchat, Telegram

Comment

Image Credits:

Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform Instagram is flexing its platform muscle by shutting down ‘add me’ deeplinking for some other social media services within its apps.

Previously Instagram users were able to include ‘add me’/’follow me’ links in a website section on their profile page, directly linking out to any other profiles they had on third party social services’ apps. Now attempting to type one of these links to a Snapchat or Telegram profile, within the Instagram app’s website field on a user’s profile, results in the following message…

Photo 03-03-2016, 12 28 38

A spokesman for Instagram confirmed the change to TechCrunch, providing the following statement: “We’ve removed the ability to include ‘add me’ links on Instagram profile pages. This was a rare use-case, and not the way our platform was intended to be used. Other types of links are still allowed.”

For “other types of links” that can still be clicked through to, read links to blogs, websites, YouTube pages, iTunes pages where prominent Instagram using celebrities might be touting their latest album, for example… Just don’t hope to include a clickable link to add followers to your Snapchat or Telegram accounts.

It’s unclear how many Instagram users are making use of ‘add me’ deeplinking to Snapchat and/or Telegram on their Instagram profiles. From the celebrity side of things, linking out to a branded website seems the more standard self-promotional playbook, and remains unaffected by the block…

Beyonce Instagram

The change was flagged up earlier by mobile messaging platform Telegram, which tweeted the following complaint:

In a message to TechCrunch, Telegram founder Pavel Durov was quick to characterize the move as explicitly targeting his platform — although the deeplinking block does also affect rival messaging app Snapchat, as noted above. But he demonstrated that deeplinking to other social services — including LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, VK and Periscope — does still work. So it looks like there’s some selective discrimination going on here. Or else Instagram’s target is deeplinking that specifically enables a one-click on-boarding to another social service.

“It seems Instagram started to block links to Telegram accounts and channels (like telegram.me/durov) from their website section (ie the only place on Instagram where you can have clickable links),” Durov wrote.

You can forgive Durov his sense of persecution; Telegram has been explicitly targeted by a Facebook-owned property before, as the above tweet notes.

“Like in [the] case with WhatsApp blocking links to Telegram, we received no clarification or warning from Facebook/Instagram,” added Durov, referencing the move last December by WhatsApp to close down clickable links to Telegram.

Durov says links to Telegram are still blocked within the WhatsApp Android app.

Last month Telegram trumpeted reaching 100 million monthly active users, so it can claim some growth momentum — which might be enough of a concern to Facebook to shutter deeplinking and thus block one potential avenue where usage of the rival service might spread (via the social graph of a more popular platform).

That said, it’s unclear what proportion of Telegram’s 100M MAUs are bots — a popular (and much copied) feature on the platform that allows for third party developers to use Telegram’s API to create software accounts that offer automated services (such as supplying photos in response to keywords). We’ve asked Durov to break out bots vs human Telegram users and will update this story with any response. Update: On this he confirms: “We don’t count bots as active users.”

For some comparative context, last September Instagram said it had reached 400 million monthly active users, overtaking the reach of Twitter at that point. Snapchat is less clear cut in disclosing MAUs but last summer founder Evan Spiegel said it had close to 100 million daily active users in “developed countries”.

Instagram’s own Terms of Use include a lengthy section on third party service linking — saying interactions with third party apps “may” be permitted…

Functionality on the Service may also permit interactions between the Service and a third-party web site or feature, including applications that connect the Service or your profile on the Service with a third-party web site or feature. For example, the Service may include a feature that enables you to share Content from the Service or your Content with a third party, which may be publicly posted on that third party’s service or application. Using this functionality typically requires you to login to your account on the third-party service and you do so at your own risk. Instagram does not control any of these third-party web services or any of their content. You expressly acknowledge and agree that Instagram is in no way responsible or liable for any such third-party services or features. YOUR CORRESPONDENCE AND BUSINESS DEALINGS WITH THIRD PARTIES FOUND THROUGH THE SERVICE ARE SOLELY BETWEEN YOU AND THE THIRD PARTY. You may choose, at your sole and absolute discretion and risk, to use applications that connect the Service or your profile on the Service with a third-party service (each, an “Application”) and such Application may interact with, connect to or gather and/or pull information from and to your Service profile. By using such Applications, you acknowledge and agree to the following: (i) if you use an Application to share information, you are consenting to information about your profile on the Service being shared; (ii) your use of an Application may cause personally identifying information to be publicly disclosed and/or associated with you, even if Instagram has not itself provided such information; and (iii) your use of an Application is at your own option and risk, and you will hold the Instagram Parties (defined below) harmless for activity related to the Application.

Of course the platform is in full control of its own policies and can choose to shutter previously permitted functionality if it so desires — which looks to be the case in this instance. Sign up to sit inside a tech platform walled garden and ‘thems the breaks’, as they say.

Telegram’s Durov is himself an active user of Instagram, with close to 100,000 followers on the service and 122 posts frequently showcasing his nomadic lifestyle (having left Russia after being forced to sell his prior social network, VK, Durov and his traveling team of devs work out of multiple cities).

Why does Durov think Instagram has blocked deeplinking at this point? “Our 100M active users or the rise of Telegram Channels,” he suggests, adding: “From their side, they might’ve noticed more and more Instagram users setting links to their Telegram accounts and channels in the website section of Instagram.”

Telegram’s Channels broadcast feature launched last September, replacing an older ‘broadcast lists’ feature that did not support unlimited reach. The new Channels can be public, allowing users to send content to an unlimited number of people and shifting the emphasis of Telegram away from more bounded mobile messaging to a more fully featured and public-facing social media service. And thus treading more directly on the likes of Instagram’s toes.

Telegram also has an in-app photo editor which lets users crop, rotate, edit and auto-enhance photos before sending them. Announcing the feature a year ago, it noted users were sharing 35 million photos daily, adding: “For comparison, Instagram users shared 70 million photos daily in December. Yet up until now, messaging app users couldn’t enjoy a photo editing experience on the level that is offered by photo-sharing apps. We’re changing this today.”

This story was updated to clarify which social service deeplinks are being blocked by Instagram

More TechCrunch

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €284M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

2 days ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’