Instagram and iMessage aren’t on speaking terms. Well, in a small technical way that’s made sending Instagram posts by text slightly more annoying, that is.
Have you noticed recently that Instagram links are not generating previews when sent through iMessage? I noticed this irritation a few months ago, and people have been complaining about it on Reddit, too. Instead, all that appears when you try to send an Instagram post to someone is the ugly Instagram URL, and users have to click through to see the post. The horror!
It wasn’t always this way — Instagram previews used to work fine. The particularly weird thing about this issue is that Instagram previews only seem to cause an issue in iMessage, not when sent through other platforms, like Slack. And links from other websites, like Twitter or Google, preview fine when sent through iMessage.
What’s going on? Apple and Facebook (which owns Instagram) have not been playing nice lately. Could there be something more to this communication issue?
Probably not. While Apple would not comment, its developer guidelines provide technical parameters and state that it’s up to developers to make sure their links cooperate. Essentially, Apple’s stance is that it’s not on them.
Instagram looked into the issue when Mashable asked about it. After investigating, the company found that there is — aha! — a bug afoot.
“This issue is due to a bug, and we are actively working to resolve Instagram link previews in iMessage so that they load normally,” an Instagram spokesperson said over email.
While Instagram was looking into the matter, I reached out to the security research team known as Mysk, aka Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk. They’ve uncovered security flaws in link previews before, and I wanted to see if they could pinpoint the issue.
Mission: Accomplished. By inspecting the network traffic between iMessage and Instagram, Mysk found that, oddly, Instagram *is* only having a problem with previews on iMessage.
“When iMessage tries to open the link to look for the metadata, Instagram forwards the requests to the login page,” Mysk said. “Because the login page of Instagram has no metadata for link previews, iMessage doesn’t show anything.”
Strangely, if another service (known as a “User-Agent”) tries to look for metadata, Instagram doesn’t re-route it to the login page, and can comply just fine.
Mashable asked Instagram if it has any further comment on this bug, and will update this if and when we hear back.
In the meantime, those who are annoyed by Instagram previews not showing up in iMessage will have to hold on a little longer. Fear not, though, because Instagram says it will fix this soon.