Trusted Marketing Partner of Instagram Caught Tracking Millions of Users

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

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

A company by the name of Hyp3r has been a marketing partner of Instagram and Facebook for quite some time now, and it was recently revealed that Hyp3r has been tracking the location of Instagram and Facebook users in order to target them with advertising that is location specific. It also saved public Stories - viewing them beyond the 24-hour mark where they're supposed to expire - and scraped user profile data.

"We've also made a product change that should help prevent other companies from scraping public location pages in this way".

The location-based platform, HYP3R says it didn't violate any rules arguing that accessing public data on Instagram is justifiable.

"Once again, we learn that a third-party company, Hyp3r, harvested sensitive user data, including precise geolocation information, from a Facebook-owned company".

On Tuesday, identifying a case of fraud, social networking giant Facebook sued two app developers for click injection scam that infected smartphones with malware.

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Hyp3r is "an award-winning location-based marketing platform" based out of San Francisco.

The Irish Data Protection Commission said on Wednesday that it is "working to establish" whether European Union citizens have been affected by the data scraping, which was first revealed in a Business Insider investigation published Wednesday. "As a result, we've removed them from our platform". Access to data from the Stories feature is not available through Instagram's API.

It concerns a United States marketing company called Hyp3r, which was an official "Facebook Marketing Partner" right up until yesterday, when the status was removed following an investigation published by Business Insider. According to reports, Hyp3r used its data-scraping capabilities following Instagram's changes enacted to enable more consumer privacy in the wake of the Cambridge-Analytica scandal.

Spokespeople for Hyp3r and Instagram did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request on Thursday.

To read the full expose-including assurances from Hyp3r that they've done nothing wrong by pulling data that can "be accessed publicly by everyone online"-head over to Business Insider". While this was done in violation of Instagram's rules, Hyp3r appears to have been free of any meaningful oversight from Instagram or Facebook. "We are working to establish whether European Union data subjects have been affected in the first instance and will then assess whether further information from Instagram is required".

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