Instagram Starts Fight with a 17-Year-Old

Instagram Started a Fight with a 17-Year-Old
Photo from Instagram

Like many dedicated Instagram users, Caleb Benn, a 17-year-old high school student from Los Angeles, was frustrated over the fact that Instagram doesn’t let its users upload pictures directly from their personal computers.

So he decided to do something about it.

It only took him a weekend to create an app specifically designed to address this frustration— built entirely from scratch.

Before the week started the app was up and running.

The app, which Benn named Uploader for Instagram, became the answer to many Instagramers’ problems, as it gave them the convenience that the official app has so resolutely refused to provide.

Uploader for Instagram has only been around for a couple of weeks, but the app— which costs $4.99— has been consistently gaining popularity among Instagram users.

So much so that Benn says the app has now been making him up to $1,000 a day.

But Instagram isn’t happy about it.

An engineer from the company, which is owned by Facebook, sent Benn an e-mail to confront him about the ‘situation’. Benn was told by the engineer that he had violated Instagram’s terms of service. He was also told that they wanted the app fixed by Monday, to get it in line with the Instagram’s TOS.

By Tuesday, Benn still hasn’t fixed anything. Not because he couldn’t, but because he didn’t want to.

Apparently, the “fix” that Instagram wanted him to do will basically render Uploader for Instagram entirely useless.

Benn said he responded to the e-mail the company sent him, but received no response so far. When CNN Money tried to reach Instagram to get their side of the story, the company declined to comment.

“I believe it’s entirely legal for my app to perform these actions,” said Benn, who also admitted that he gained access to Instagram’s API by hacking the program— though he insisted he meant no harm.

But Chris Messina, a Silicon Valley technologist, said that Instagram has its reasons for keeping its API private. According to Messina, making it otherwise “opens up possibilities for all kinds of abuse, from spambots or people uploading stuff from other channels.”

Messina added: “Instagram, from a product perspective, is intended to be about capturing the moment using your phone’s camera.”

He said that if Instagram wanted its users to be able to upload files from a computer, it would have done so already. But it didn’t, because doing so would be veering away from the app’s ‘aesthetic tone’. “That erodes the user experience,” said Messina.

For now, it’s still business as usual for Uploader for Instagram, but many believe it’s only a matter of time before the app is completely shut down.

Benn says he’s not ready to take the app down just yet, so for now he’ll just “wait and see”.

All proceeds from the app’s sale goes to Benn’s college fund. He said he’s planning to take up computer science.


  • xcredence says:

    Wow! That is hilarious! That teenager should be commended and rewarded for his smarts. I wonder if Instagram will be able to make Benn take it down?

    • Jessica Erdman says:

      I bet they will let him keep it up for 2 years and then sue him for all of the money he made! That’s kind of what Orbit did anyway.

  • oraclemay says:

    Yes I agree. Well he is going to study and I am sure we are going to hear from him again in the not so distant future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *