February 16, 2023
Instagram solution disabled

Facebook disabled my web app (profile page images) and sent me the following message:

When reviewing your app, we weren’t able to find any Facebook integration or verify the permission use case that you provided during App Review, but don’t panic - we just need the following information from you:

Well… I only required the Instagram API and the web app has no password authentication and immediately asks for Instagram permission once you sign up/in. The reviewer did not actually review the app, but sent this message without checking anything. Asking for the use case (especially referring to ‘Facebook’) is hilarious, as the second sentence on the homepage reads: We offer a safe and simple way to put (the first few) images from your Instagram account on your website. Detailed instructions on where to find the integration is also a joke. It is the first thing that happens when you log in or sign up. The last two questions are not applicable and make it clear that the person from Facebook did not even take the effort to personalize this message. The 200+ users of this web app had no problem reading the homepage and understanding how it works, but the Facebook employees working at the review department apparently do. Remarkable.

I immediately appealed the take down of the app. Currently we are back to square one. Apparently Meta can not be trusted as a technical partner. I have a feeling that this might be the end of this (free) service.

Update 2023/02/20 - Facebook wrote 4 days ago: ‘Our team is working quickly to review your case and will get back to you by the end of the next business day.’ They failed at doing so. Currently the web app is being held hostage by Facebook/Meta. They are redefining the word ‘unreliable’. I am sorry, but there is currently little we can do.

Update 2023/02/23 - One week in and not a sign from Facebook/Meta. I think we should consider this project ’lost’. Imagine what would happen if this was a product with actual turnover and employees!

Update 2023/02/24 - I have contacted some (Dutch) Meta employees on LinkedIn and confronted them with this situation, but none of them have responded. I also appealed again and answered their questions once again (use case and detailed instructions). I added the following comment: You said you would reply within one business day. We are more than 7 days further… but not a single reaction, while you disabled my app and you are harming more than 200 website owners. That is why I am appealing again. You are making false promises and your behaviour is a blatant abuse of power. This is highly unproffesional.

Here is the use case I provided, as well as the detailed instructions on how/where to find the integration/permission request:

“PPI Loader stands for Profile Page Images Loader. We offer a safe and simple way to put (the first few) images from your Instagram account on your website. We focus on privacy, performance and simplicity. We offer a GDPR compliant, fast loading solution with low complexity. Our solution is suitable for any platform, but works exceptionally well for performance-optimized websites. In order to find the integration, you should enter your email address at https://profilepageimages.usecue.com/login. After that you will be sent instructions on how to log in.”

Providing credentials is not applicable, as the app uses no-password-authentication. The above seems like a complete and proper answer/explanation to me. Now we wait… again.

Update 2023/03/03 - I received an email from Facebook today, which read: ‘Hi, we have restored your app that was mistakenly deleted by our automated systems. We apologize for the inconvenience and understand how frustrating that must have been. Please respond to this email if you encounter any errors or if there’s anything else we can do for you. As always, we appreciate your commitment to creating a positive experience for users.’

Update 2023/04/03 - And exactly one month later they removed the app again… So much for apologies. I wrote one of my ‘customers’ the folowing: “A free service that does what everybody wants is not good for the market, nor for the data harvesting of Meta/FB. There is ZERO communication/explanation or warning (except for a violation code). They just shut you down and do not reply to appeals or tell you what you did wrong. Meta is clearly corrupt and the system broken.”

Update 2023/04/08 - I have created a CodePen of an alternative, based on the free Instagram widget from SnapWidget, check it out.

Update 2023/04/11 - I received another similar email from Facebook today, which read: ‘Hi, we have restored your app that was mistakenly deleted by our automated systems… etc.’ I think we can conclude that the Facebook API is too unreliable for professional usage for both you and me. The lack of communication in combination with these 7+ day downtime incidents (they call ‘mistakes’), is unacceptable, even for a free service/free API. It is currently April and they already managed to get more than 4% downtime this calendar year (2023).

()  Joost van der Schee

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