Facebook owned Instagram, has decided to block links in user profiles to private messaging apps Telegram and Snapchat, reports the Verge. This move comes after another Facebook owned company, WhatsApp, started blocking any links to Telegram in December last year.
The block applies to users looking to edit their profiles and put in their Telegram ID as contact info. Users can still link back to their own personal website, their Facebook pages or Twitter account without any issues. Unlike the last time, when WhatsApp offered no justification for blocking Telegram, Instagram said that “Links asking someone to add you on another service aren’t supported on Instagram.”
— Telegram Messenger (@telegram) March 2, 2016
According to Instagram it has removed the ability to include ‘add me’ links on its profile page, which was a ‘rare use-case’. The company mentions that it is only blocking those links from Snapchat and Telegram that are solely designed to let people follow the user or add them. However, no other site is blocked. This is not surprising given Telegram competes with WhatsApp and Snapchat competes with Instagram.
Following Facebook’s footsteps: In November last year, Facebook started blocking Tsu, a social network that pays users by sharing revenues users generate by posting on the site. According to the CEO of the startup, Facebook even removed any mention of the site retroactively from its archives. According to Facebook however, this block is simply to prevent spam. Check out Facebook’s spam prevention policy. It’s worth noting that Facebook Messenger started blocking links to torrent websites, even those of copyright-free content.
MediaNama’s take: Despite the company’s claims, it is hard not to perceive this move as Facebook trying to curb the influence competitors bring to its platforms. While blocking content on their own platforms is well within the rights of companies, these platforms hold enormous power over how people use the internet and communicate. As a private platform, they are free to be non-neutral, and it’s only when dependencies are inordinately high in the market, in a way that there is little room for competition, and a company’s practices advantage its own services at the expense of others, does this matter.