Facebook shutters Vintage Camera's access

Facebook has blocked Vintage Camera, an Instagram-like photo app, from accessing its API (application programming interface). The move follows the recent blocking of other apps by the social networking giant.

Vintage Camera is an app for the iPhone and iPad designed to let users take photos, apply creative filters and share the images with friends via Twitter, Facebook and email. As of Wednesday afternoon, attempting to post a photo to Facebook with the app simply causes the application to freeze.

The app functions similarly to Instagram, the photo-sharing app Facebook acquired last year. In a statement, however, Facebook does not cite competition between the two apps as the reason behind the shutdown, pointing instead to the site’s platform policies for quality standards.

While it provides an open platform, every app on the platform is required to meet Facebook policies, a representative said in an email. “Depending on the violation, we give developers an opportunity to come into compliance via a warning system, and also provide Insights so developers can monitor user reports and spikes in spam reports.”

That statement agrees with Vintage Camera’s side of the story, though the app developer hints that ulterior motives may have been at play.

“The reason for the app being denied of uploading photos, according to Facebook, is that it was receiving a ‘high amount of negative user feedback,’ which is not true,” said Antoine Morcos, co-founder at Vintage Camera developer Presselite Studio.

Only one to three cases of negative feedback are reported to Facebook for the 1000 to 3000 photos shared each day with the application, Morcos said in an email, “which we think is due to an inappropriate use of the application.”

Third-party app developers are supposed to monitor their app’s negative feedback to ensure it stays below Facebook’s thresholds, according to the site’s platform policies, but the policies do not clearly state what those thresholds are.

“We hope this [Instagram] acquisition is not influencing this kind of restriction,” Morcos added.

Regardless of the motive, the app’s suspension on Facebook follows other instances of the social network blocking apps that have offered services competitive to its business.

Last month, for instance, Wonder, a social discovery app offering search features similar to Facebook’s Nearby mobile search tool, was shut down after Facebook blocked the app’s access to its API data.

During the same month Facebook also restricted users on Vine, Twitter’s new mobile video app, from accessing their Facebook friends using the service.

Facebook and Twitter, after all, are strong competitors. Following Facebook’s Instagram acquisition, Twitter blocked the photo app’s sharing feature on its own social network.

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