A third-party Instagram app called The OG App, which promised an ad-free feed more akin to the original Instagram experience, has been pulled from the App Store just a day after its official launch. Apple appears to have removed the app at Meta’s request, as the social network confirmed that it had taken “enforcement action” against the service, reports Engadget.
“This app violates our policies and we’re taking all appropriate enforcement actions,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement. The spokesperson declined to elaborate on what those actions were, or if it had been in contact with Apple but pointed to a blog post outlining Meta’s policies barring clone sites.
“A clone site is a third-party site that duplicates, in whole or in part, the content of an existing site,” Meta explains. On Twitter, the developers of The OG App said their entire team had been permanently banned from Facebook and Instagram as a result of their ties to the service.
“Meta has banned the personal Facebook (not linked to OG) and Instagram (linked to OG) accounts for everyone on our team, permanently. Meta is intent on taking extraordinary measures to suppress and censor us simply because we did right by their users,” the developers tweeted.
Meta has banned the personal Facebook (not linked to OG) and Instagram (linked to OG) accounts for everyone on our team, permanently.
Meta is intent on taking extraordinary measures to suppress and censor us simply because we did right by their users. pic.twitter.com/JOzJ81p81k
— The OG App 🔗 (@TheOGapp_) September 28, 2022
“Users deserve the right to control what they consume, and OG will continue to defend and fight for that right,” said Hardik Patil, co-founder of the app. He also noted that he did not directly receive messages from Meta.
The OG App has been in development for over a year, according to TechCrunch, which first reported its launch. Its founders told the publication that they wanted to create a “cleaner” version of Instagram without advertising. The app introduced customizable feeds without short video Reels, suggested posts, and other newer features that sometimes caused complaints from longtime Instagram users. Now the Android version of the app is still available.
Meta’s policy has long banned third-party Instagram clients, and in recent years the company has filed a number of lawsuits against developers who violate its rules, including those that ban clone sites. Meanwhile, the company has also been accused of using the same rules to stop legitimate attempts by researchers to study the platform.
However, in this case, it appears that the creators of the OG app clearly violated Instagram’s policy. The company doesn’t offer a public API for developers to create their own versions of Instagram, and The OG App said on Twitter that they had to “reverse engineer” the Android API. The app also raised concerns about how developers protect user account information.
Despite this, the application has already won many fans thanks to its simplified appearance and lack of advertising. Especially against the background of the original Instagram, which faced a backlash from users for aggressively promoting Reels and recommended content. OG App said it had more than 10,000 downloads before the app was removed from the App Store “because we listened to them and built what they wanted.”