- To get around Instagram limiting developer data collection, marketing and media companies are using automated "bots" to collect public profile data and create their own social user databases.
- The method, which is completely legal, shows that even if platforms block data collection it will be difficult to prevent access to user information.
Facebook-owned Instagram is limiting the amount of data that developers can pull on users, but some businesses have found a simple workaround: Get a bot army to "read" public social media data just as any human would do.
Facebook and other social media companies are cracking down on how data can be used and shared after revelations that data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica used improperly acquired information about Facebook users to target political ads, and ahead of a new European law called the General Data Protection Regulation.
So some marketing and media companies are increasingly relying on automated programs, known as bots or spiders, to get information they want about users without explicit permission. They don't need to consult the users, who posted the info publicly, or the platforms where the information is posted.
It's easy. It's perfectly legal. And although the platforms try to discourage it, it's hard to stop.