Less than a week before Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg donned a suit to testify before the United States Congress, influencer monetisation platform Liketoknow.it sent an email to users: “As of today, you will be able to shop Instagram content exclusively with a screenshot, as like-based shopping will no longer be supported due to changes in Facebook/Instagram’s third-party access to likes.”
It was a short message with big meaning.
The move means that, for example, third-parties can no longer access follower lists, relationships information, see which posts users have “liked” or receive notifications when media is posted. Analytics companies that provide follower demographics will no longer have access to Instagram data and people can no longer use “bots” to follow accounts or “like” Instagram posts.
To put it plainly, many businesses that aggregate data about influencers are dead in the water, said Liketoknow.it founder Amber Venz Box. She added that while Liketoknow.it (and parent company RewardStyle) had leveraged Facebook’s developer tools, she always knew it was possible they might change or disappear, so the company began removing its reliance on these tools in 2015 (one year after the venture was founded). A year ago, Liketoknow.it introduced a way to shop influencer content using a screenshot or directly within its app, rather than through Instagram likes. (The company reports that, last year, users purchased more than $270 million in products using this technology.)
But many influencers who have eschewed traditional blogs in favour of Instagram are still left in the lurch, says Texas-based influencer Ashley Robertson, who blogs as The Teacher Diva. “It definitely has shaken up the influencer industry, especially the people who rely on Liketoknow.it solely. They don’t have another platform to provide affiliate links or generate sales, so they are just scrambling,” she says.
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