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Your Site's Instagram Feed Will Very Likely Stop Working Soon

UPDATE: According to an update from February 20, 2020, Instagram's legacy API has postponed its deprecation from March 2nd, 2020 to June 29, 2020. This will provide third-parties more time to make the appropriate updates to their sites. Ref:

This unfortunately has been a long time coming, and some of us saw the writing on the wall but just hoped that it was either just false gossip or even if there was a sliver of truth to it, that perhaps there was something in the works we could lean on at some point down the road. 

Well. That day is coming. Very soon. And that day is that Instagram will be deprecating their API access on March 2nd, 2020.

So what does this mean exactly?

It means that your website’s Instagram feed will very likely stop working.

That potentially means that your Instagram feed on your site will either:

  • Display empty boxes where your Instagram images are currently displayed.
  • Not display any boxes at all and the entire section will collapse. 

Fortunately it is unlikely that the failure of this particular feed will cause a domino effect on the rest of your site, so everything else should operate as it normally would. But if you are among the many brands that have shaped a lot of their image around the organic nature of a live Instagram feed, you’ll want to rectify this as soon as possible. 

So What Are My Options?

The deprecation of the now old public Instagram API was to help push forward the new Basic Display API. This does come with a plethora of new features, and among those are long-lived access tokens. Majority of the Instagram feeds we’ve seen before on sites were based on retrieving an access token, but historically were short lived. As we reach the day that the public Instagram API becomes fully deprecated and the new Basic Display API becomes the primary option, there may be new approaches and options for feeds. Some have speculated that third party services can be provided (albeit at a recurring cost) for auto access token renewal, which would in theory allow you to recreate your feed as it once was. 

But that’s of course not the most comforting bit of intel to bank on. So what else can we do right now? 

Create An Emulated Instagram Feed

This isn’t a perfect solution, but it will at least retain the appearance that there is an Instagram feed on your site. When we say “emulated”, we mean that on face value, the Instagram feed is still on your site and appears as if nothing has changed. But behind the scenes, this is nothing more than a static display of images you would manually upload yourself and even be able to link out to the corresponding post it came from.

If you’re on Shopify, this can be custom built through your theme’s Sections and Blocks. We may provide a more elaborate write-up of how to do this step-by-step, but in the meantime if you’re highly considering this option and need assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

However, it’s important to note that this option will not automatically load new images as new posts are made on your Instagram account. (Hence the notion that it’s an “emulated” feed.) Again, not the most ideal solution, but one that - for now - can help you retain this infrastructure on your site if your brand does rely on this being there.

Disable the Instagram Feed Altogether

Among your options, this may be the least appealing, but certainly one that is quickest and will ensure that your site continues to operate as expected. While it’s unlikely that a broken Instagram feed will negatively affect the rest of your site, it’s always a possibility and always considered best practice to eliminate script errors wherever possible. 

If you’re on Shopify and using a theme purchased from Shopify’s theme store, you’ll like have an option to disable your feed directly from your Theme Customizer. Either “hide” the section or simply go into it and select Remove Section:

As users start to employ the Basic Display API more, we’re sure that other options will become available over time. Some of them may require recurring costs to self-maintain but depending on the purpose your Instagram feed serves for you, that can be a decision you’ll have the option of making when that bridge is available to cross. Until then, either of the 2 options mentioned above are safe alternatives and one we highly recommend considering. If you are having some trouble getting either of those options to work for you, again, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!


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