Google Play Store Blocks Access to the Customizable Ad-Free Instagram Hack

Google Play Store Blocks Access to the Customizable Ad-Free Instagram Hack

App stores like Google Play cater to two distinct customer segments with different interests. While developers want exposure for their software and protection for their intellectual property, smartphone users are mainly concerned about app stores identifying malicious apps and keeping their devices safe. However, when one app begins using another’s services without authorization, we are almost certainly headed for conflict, as we saw earlier this year when YouTube Vanced was shut down. This week, the Google Play Store removed an app promoting itself as a customizable, ad-free, suggestion-free feed alternative to Instagram. This is the latest app to run into problems of that nature.


This unofficial Instagram client, known as “The OG App,” debuted in late September to allow users to relive the good old days when Instagram wasn’t overrun by an attention-hungry algorithm, Reels, NFTs, and intrusive ads. To implement the nostalgic yet customizable experience, app developers Ansh Nanda and Hardik Patil (under the Un1feed label) dissected Instagram’s API. Users could curate various feeds, establish defaults, stop feeds from refreshing for 24 hours, and disable read receipts for direct messages.

However, TechCrunch notes that the project’s workarounds for using the service put user data in danger by opening up a can of worms. A few Twitter users claim that after giving The OG App their login information, Instagram notified them of suspicious logins. Many users appeared to be understandably concerned about how this was being handled, despite the developers’ attempts to explain away the warnings due to how they took 2FA.

But when Apple removed the app from the App Store late last month, there was a significant backlash. According to reports, Meta is punishing the developers for breaking its rules. Apple explained in its removal notice to the developers that The OG App’s violation of Instagram’s terms of service also constituted a violation of App Store policies.

The developers tweeted that they won’t be able to continue serving users as long as Google continues to follow Apple’s example. The app can still be sideloaded on Android devices, but we don’t believe the advantages outweigh the security risk.

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