Developers of an app that clones Instagram without the ads claim that Facebook and Instagram banned the personal accounts of their staff, in retaliation for making a better version of Instagram.
A spokesperson for The OG App told Motherboard that since the team’s personal accounts were not linked to the app, they believe that a Meta employee searched their identities on Google to carry out the bans. “This is a gross misuse of their power and this is clearly extralegal retaliation simply because we made Instagram into something people actually want to use,” The OG App said in an email to Motherboard.
“Meta is intent on taking extraordinary measures to suppress and censor us simply because we did right by their users,” a spokesperson for The OG App said in a tweet.
The app promises users “the OG Instagram experience,” according to its website, with features like customizable feeds and the removal of reels and advertisements.
Apple removed the app from its App Store on September 27; Google also removed the app from Google Play following Apple’s removal.
A spokesperson for Meta told Motherboard in an email statement, “This app violates our policies and we’re taking all appropriate enforcement actions” and included a link to a blog post titled, “How We Work to Safeguard People Against Clone Sites.” The spokesperson did not address the social media bans.
The OG App’s developers claim that they went through multiple rounds of review with Apple prior to the launch, including a three-month private beta testing through Apple’s TestFlight program. The OG App said that they complied with several changes requested by Apple and that the app was subsequently approved.
The app received 10,000 downloads in about eight hours, and ranked 50th on the App Store for Social Networking before it was taken down, according to the company. The spokesperson for The OG App told Motherboard that upon requesting clarification about the app’s removal through Apple’s developer portal, they were told that they need to provide authorization from Instagram evidencing that they have “all necessary rights or permissions to request, display or distribute account information” in the app.
“Everyone knows Instagram sucks. We made it better and got a lot of love from users. But Facebook hates its own users so much, it’s willing to crush an alternative that gives them a customizable, ad-free Instagram,” the spokesperson for The OG App said.
Instagram has fallen under scrutiny in recent months for features including Suggested Reels, sponsored advertisements and suggested posts. In June, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri admitted that the app is “not good” after Kim Kardashian publicly criticized the app.
Ansh Nanda and Hardik Patil, the co-founders of The OG App, told Techcrunch in September that Instagram has “the most toxic relationship” with its users and that they wanted to create an app that would put users first as opposed to advertisers.
“Users deserve the right to control what they consume, and OG will continue to defend and fight for that right,” The OG App told Motherboard.