About a year ago, research for If Emily Posted opened my eyes to the sheer number of third party apps that violate the Terms of Service provided with the API for developers. With a focus on Instagram apps, which were blowing up across the interwebs, I went to work getting in touch with developers believing in what IEP has taught me again and again – sometimes people make mistakes simply because they don’t understand the rules.

The good news? A few totally took the responsibility and did something about it. STAT.

The not so good news? Whether they made changes or not, most had NO IDEA they were breaking the TOS – because they’d never read them.

So, it shouldn’t surprise me when I see a new app breaking the rules. And yet, it still does.

It began with few images in my Instagram feed with a blue bar across the bottom displaying another user’s avatar and username. Last night, I checked out what it was.

“Do more than like it – Repost it.” This is the tag line on the App Store page for the Repost to Instagram app, Repostapp, which is a super simple and free way to REPOST the Instagrams you love.

Except here’s the thing: no one has the right to repost an Instagram.

I know it’s an oldie, but an early IEP rule that still applies: Giving credit isn’t getting permission.

if emily posted getting permission

Reposting and reblogging are terms I’m seeing across social media. And it’s generally nothing more than a fancy way of saying: this isn’t mine but I’m sharing it with you.

FACT: Just because new words enter the social media lexicon doesn’t make them acceptable.

Granted, there are times when an Instagram repost is a nonissue. Friends screenshot and repost images on Instagram often, and that’s between friends and generally cool. But an app with the express purpose, the only purpose, to make reposting a thing – not cool.

On the App Store site, they write:

“Stop the screenshot & cropping nonsense.”

Um, no. Instead, it’s time we stop this nonsense amongst third party developers who toss aside TOS. The Repostapp has a huge following, and while I think those that download the app need to take responsibility for disregarding the TOS, there’s a false sense of OK when people see an app that offers them tools that they shouldn’t have. The responsibility falls on both.

A developer friend once told me that an app developer’s goal is to see what they can make possible, not necessarily what they should make possible, once an API is in their hands. And many sites, like Instagram, do a less than stellar job of monitoring third party apps.

I know Repostapp isn’t alone in this. There is at least one other app that does the same thing. It’s not OK. They need to be taken down by the App Store and I’m reaching out to the developers. Youre welcome to do the same. We’ll see what happens.

Also, here’s a link to last year’s post on third party apps and developer responsibility.

third party apps must respect IP ©alexashersears


7 thoughts on “Repost an Instagram: Another App Breaking the Rules?

  1. Me

    HA! Maybe you should know all the ins and outs of what the reposts actually are before crying IP wolf. This cannot be covered by your narrow and overly generalized view from your high horse. Stealing is wrong…sharing your accolades, awards, moments, shout-outs, etc. is not.

    1. alexandra Post author

      A repost done via an app like this is taking a copyrighted image and reposting it in another person’s feed. I’m not on any high horse – it’s right there in the Terms of Service Instagram supplies both users and developers that copyright protection exists for all images.

      On the other hand, there are situations where people post images to share with others and those repostings are cool because both parties OK it. But apps created for the sheer purpose of copying someone’s image promote the idea that IG is a free for all. And it’s not.

  2. Richard Johnson

    I mean no disrespect, you have no need to reply, as I’m never coming to this domain again because I stumbled upon it. I’m 99.9% sure that if “IG” had as much of a problem with the InstaRepost app or any other forms of this “nonsense” as you, the concerned blogger do, the company would have already taken legal action toward them.

    On the subject of the iPhone “crop function” it is as it says – a function of Apple Incorporated’s iPhone that is not removable from the software. If owners of the merchandise would like to crop images they see, it is completely legal to do so. You claim that Instagram protects all Instagram users from copyright violation and yes, this is true. However, well, look at it this way – IG can take action, the apps may lose in court (if Instagram Inc. had this immense a problem with them, [but I guess they prefer not to shoot flies w/ bazookas]) but Instagram has been around for 3 years whereas Apple Inc. has been in business for 37 years. So what I’m getting at is that Instagram could take action towards all the applications infringing the precious user copyright that almost no one knows of and win, then take legal action towards an experienced Apple Inc. and LOSE (I know you like capital letters) only to have the “ruckus” continue, or you could just be contempt with the fact that nobody is offended but you and a handful of others. You wouldn’t fist fight your superior for eating your sandwich would you? I do not think so…

    1. alexandra Post author

      I There is no action to be taken against Instagram, their TOS protects them from any sort of problems from the get-go when a user clicks and accepts them. And the Apple crop feature isn’t to blame either. It is third party developers who are abusing the TOS. The fist fighting for lunch analogy makes no sense. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree because we’re not on the same page, but I thank you for taking the time to read the post.

  3. Michael Sim

    We live in a world where technology often restricts us from being as social as we’d like to be. I’ve started using a similar app recently, and by FAR all of the people enjoy the repost. The best apps add the credit to the image, and duplicate the content of the post (including hashtags and the user’s @name) directly into the content area.

    Sure, it’s on the user to not change the content, and to not use any filters to alter the original work – but I believe it’s this unspoken “don’t F with it” that brings people together in Instagram. And those who abuse it, alter the work, alter the text, or simply try to get away with forgery will quickly get flagged and suspended for their activity.

    What’s even more interesting is that some accounts who have large following actually hold contests where users randomly win if they repost.

    Honestly, in this battle you’re a lone voice shouting for relevancy in a world that is moving too fast and is too ADD to give a hoot. IP or not, having your work shared with or without your permission is the exact same thing that the music industry is going through. Be Lars Ulrich all you like, but at the end of the day, people set the tone for what people want, not rules.

    And what the music industry is learning is that sharing promotes the user, raises awareness to their work, and encourages the magical element of social media – connections.

    So in the words of Gene Wilder – “…you get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir! (ma’am)

    1. alexandra Post author

      I appreciate your thoughts, and while I always appreciate a good Wonka quote (I can be something of a Veruca Salt myself) I won’t ever think it a lost cause to make people aware of copyright and their rights. I don’t think a repost is inherently a bad thing, but it’s all about how it is done, which takes us back to IP 101. Thanks for reading!


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