Instagram has banned a marketing company called Hyp3r which was saving location data attached to users’ stories so it could track their real-world movements.
Although the information in stories is intended to vanish within 24 hours, the marketing company was capturing and saving it, in violation of the social media platform’s rules.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, sent Hyp3r a cease-and-desist letter after the marketing company’s activities were uncovered by Business Insider.
In a statement to Sky News, the social media giant said: “Hyp3r’s actions were not sanctioned and violate our policies. As a result, we’ve removed them from our platform.
“We’ve also made a product change that should help prevent other companies from scraping public location pages in this way,” it added.
The company could face a fine of up to 4% of its global turnover if it fails to inform users and the regulator of a data breach within 72 hours of that breach being discovered.
Last year the Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK fined Facebook £500,000 for the “serious breach of data protection law” which occurred when it inappropriately shared the information of 87 million users with Cambridge Analytica.
Sky News asked Instagram whether it had decided not to report Hyp3r’s activities because the data the marketing company was scraping was already public, but a spokesperson said the company was still investigating.
Hyp3r, which describes itself as a “location-based marketing platform” denied breaking Instagram’s terms of service, according to Business Insider.
Facebook’s terms of service state: “You may not access or collect data from our products using automated means (without our prior permission) or attempt to access data you do not have permission to access.”
Instagram’s terms of service are similar: “You can’t attempt to create accounts or access or collect information in unauthorised ways. This includes creating accounts or collecting information in an automated way without our express permission.”
The marketing company’s chief executive Carlos Garcia told Business Insider: “Hyp3r is, and has always been, a company that enables authentic, delightful marketing that is compliant with consumer privacy regulations and social network terms of services.
“We do not view any content or information that cannot be accessed publicly by everyone online,” he added.