Bizarre Debate: Instapult's Russian API service for Instagram

However: Instagram’s Terms and Conditions specify that external APIs to upload photographs to Instagram are seemingly not allowed. What is strange about this situation is also the following: The responsibility for the programming of the new APIs seems to lie, according to Russian blogs, with Dmitry Trachuk from Moskow (also known as Dmitry V Trachuk, or in Russian Дмитрий Трачук). Netz-Trends research has shown that he is the owner of the domain However, he is not exactly unknown in Russia.

Strange rumours are currently circulating through the Russian media: Instapult’s Russian developers have created an automated API to access the US photo-sharing service Instagram.

Dmitry Trachuk is the co-founder of the biggest chatting and photo-sharing social network group MDK which belongs to, what VK calls, the "largest European social network with over 100 million active users", (Russian: ВКонтакте). The platform VK, founded in 2006, is the very successful Russian counterpart to Facebook (

The social media group MDK (Russian МДК) on currently has 4.3 million followers and therefore wields a corresponding amount of influence on the Russian social media scene. According to VK, 100 million people use the biggest Russian social media platform VK, 59 million of which are found in East Europe alone. VK was founded by the 30 year-old Pavel Durov (to be precise Pavel Valeryevitch Durov or Па́вел Вале́рьевич Ду́ров in Russian). He is also the founder of the Whatsapp competitor Telegram Messenger. Apparently, he also offered Edward Snowden to work for him. Durov currently has 160,447 contacts on Facebook – too many for him to accept any more, according to Facebook.

No, this is not Facebook but its Russian counterpart VK and their most successful social media group MDK (4.3 million followers).

Instapult’s founder Dmitry Trachuk is also the co-founder and CEO of the app Qwenty that allows you to find employment near where you live. The US photo-sharing platform Instagram was bought roughly two years ago by Facebook for about 1 billion dollars. Instagram prides itself with the fact that all photographs or videos uploaded to Instagram are still owned by the users (contrary to Facebook’s practice).

An API offered by the Russian provider Instapult to Facebook’s very own photo- and video-sharing platform Instagram should cause yet another a stir within Facebook’s management, considering that the biggest Russian social media platform VK already “looks almost like a Facebook clone,” as a Russian explains to Netz-Trends. For the least part, there are remarkable resemblances between the two platforms – however they are still different enough to avoid conflict in trademark law (which should also be quite difficult to enforce for a US company in front of a Russian court).

VK founder Pavel Durov also repudiates claims to have copied from Facebook. Looking at technology in particular, he claims that VK is considerably different from Facebook.

The Russian Pavel Durov from St. Petersburg founded the most successful Russian social media platform VK (here holding a speech during the Digital Life Design conference in Munich. By Hubert Burda Media.)

Instapult’s programmers who have now apparently developed an open API (application programming interface) for Instagram explain their service: “Post photos on Instagram on your behalf or on behalf of your company, without worrying about your data security.”

On Instapult (, there are two ways of uploading photos to Instagram. The first is explained as follows: “Posts from the web: Now you can post your best photos of food on Instagram directly from your internet browser.” The second option is meant for companies who would like to upload photographs to Instagram: “SMM features: Company’s SMM manager can get the opportunity to post photos without entering login and password.”

Instapult’s API costs money

However, Instapult is not for free: Using the SMM service costs 20 US dollars a month for “7 connected accounts, scheduled posts + 2 man in management.” Using the Agency service costs 39 US dollars per month for “20 connected accounts, scheduled posts + 3 man in management.”

There are rumours that Instapult is currently trying to negotiate with Instagram whether Instagram would generally allow opening up their API – as reported by the Russian newspaper “Isvestiya.” The Russian media also reports that an API by third parties officially violates Instagram’s Terms and Conditions (however, Netz-Trends was unable to find such an explicit statement on Instagram). This is, according to Russian blogs such as, why it is currently impossible “to find a solution that’s beneficial for both sides.” Hence it is still true that “access via an external API violates Instagram’s Terms & Conditions as long as there is no solution to this problem.”

Instagram points out that they are now offering their own API. The US photo-sharing service explains their thoughts behind the API: “The first version of the Instagram API is an exciting step forward towards making it easier for users to have open access to their data. We created it so that you can surface the amazing content Instagram users share every second, in fun and innovative ways.”

Lots of reasons why Instagram refuses external APIs

Why Instagram is seemingly fighting additional APIs is currently not exactly clear. A possible reason could be that Instagram might for example try to prevent the automated upload of SPAM or user ratings onto Instagram. Netz-Trends found the following sentence in the Instagram API Terms and Conditions: “You shall not: … Use the Instagram APIs to post automated content to Instagram, including likes and comments that were not initiated and entered by an Instagram user.”

Additionally, Instagram’s refusal to allow the use of external API could be because Instagram is trying to prevent the upload of more than 30 photographs or videos at once via one API. The Instagram API Terms and Conditions state: “You shall not:... Display more than 30 Instagram photos or videos per page in your application or use an unreasonable amount of bandwidth.”

Another reason why Instagram is trying to prevent the use of external APIs could be to prevent the upload of viruses and spying Trojans as stated in the Instagram API Terms and Conditions: “You shall not: ... Use the Instagram APIs for any application that constitutes, promotes or is used in connection with spyware, adware, or any other malicious programs or code.”

Instagram also seems concerned about damage to its own system via external APIs. The Instagram API Terms and Conditions also include the following paragraph: “You shall not: ... Use the Instagram APIs in a manner that adversely impacts the stability of servers.”

Another reason for Instagram’s reluctance towards external APIs could be the US photo service’s concern of losing money to competitors such as the Russian Instapult, as the following paragraph in the Instagram API conditions points out the following: “You shall not:... Sell, lease, or sublicense the Instagram APIs or access there to or derive revenues from the use or provision of the Instagram APIs, whether for direct commercial or monetary gain or otherwise, except as set forth below.”

Paragraph 5 (Fees and payments) in the Instagram API conditions also hints at Instagram’s concern of lost revenue as a driving force behind Instagram’s refusal to allow the use of external APIs. It points out that the use of Instagram is generally free and for non-commercial purposes. However, Instagram is willing to open its API for commercial purposes if the user pays a fee: “Instagram is committed to free and open access to our APIs for non-commercial purposes. However, providing the APIs does have real costs for Instagram. For uses of Instagram APIs over a certain rate or for certain types of commercial applications, Instagram reserves the right to charge fees for future use of or access to the Instagram APIs.”

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