San Francisco marketing company scraped MILLIONS of users' data from Instagram

A screenshot from a Hyp3r marketing video shows how brands can take advantage of location data to target potential customers

The marketing firm has reportedly been scraping huge amounts of data to build up detailed records of users' movements, physical whereabouts, personal interests, and Instagram "stories", which are photos and videos that were meant to vanish after 24 hours of being posted. The marketing firm collected the data from public profiles, specifically using the Stories that disappear in 24 hours.

The social media platform has since issued Hyp3r a cease and desist, as well as kicked the firm off its platform, and made changes to its platform in an attempt to protect user data, reports Business Insider. However, this latest discovery - which an Instagram spokesperson said was "not sanctioned and violates our policies" could move the magnifying glass over the photo-sharing app.

Hyp3r is said to have primarily used Instagram's official application programming interface to obtain the bulk of the data, an apparent violation of Instagram's policies, though Hyp3r itself denies it.

Europeans seem certain to have been affected by the data scraping; sources say Hyp3r harvested data from "geofenced" locations around the world, and marketing material released by hotel chain Marriott, one of its customers, said it "surfaces all public social posts shared by on-property guests across our entire portfolio of hotels worldwide".

Business Insider first broke the news that the marketing company was storing user location data of "millions" of posts.

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Instagram has removed United States marketing company Hyp3r from its service after it was accused of grabbing users' data. was unable to reach HYP3R for comment at the time of publication; an attempt to email the company instead bounces back with an error message saying it 'couldn't be delivered'.

For Stories, since Instagram doesn't offer API that accesses this feature, HYP3R built a tool that collects them.

If you are an Instagram user, you might not appreciate the piece of information you're about to receive. As Price points out, though, that definitely runs counter to the expectations of Instagram users-who expect stories to evaporate after a day, and who don't expect data from their regular posts to be horded by digital marketers. Instagram even designated Hyp3r as an official "Marketing Partner". In fact, the company's CEO Carlos Garcia denied breaking Instagram's rules and said it does not view "any content or information that can not be accessed publicly by everyone online".

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