Instagram oneboxing

Continuing the discussion from Onebox Twitter embedding:

There is an issue with Instagram embedding for which there is no topic to my surprise. I only found this comment by @Apreche written in January. This is actually causing quite a lot of confusion among users. They post an URL to its own line but instead of a link, they see an image in their post. Is there any way to improve this behaviour?

1 Like

If you don’t want oneboxing then either

  • Add any text in front like this text

  • Put the URL in brackets like so <>

I do want oneboxing. I just want the onebox to also include other information from the Instagram post, like the caption/description from Instagram, name of the Instagram account, etc. Right now it just appears as an image with no context whatsoever. Looking at it you wouldn’t even realize it’s an Instagram post, and not just a jpg uploaded by a user.

Here’s an example:

It doesn’t even provide a link back to the original Instagram post!


OK, did you want to sponsor the feature work by signing up for a hosting plan at ? Or do you prefer posting in #marketplace a budget for the work? Alternately you could contribute a PR to

Personally I always thought of instagram as just yet another place to host images :wink:


I already know how to prevent oneboxing in my posts. It is the non-tech users who get confused, not me. One option I am considering is blacklisting Instagram so that links won’t onebox. But it’s not quite the ideal solution of course.

Couple of pointers Jeff:

  • Instagram is a social media platform that especially celebs like to leverage. I can imagine that in many communities of different field, relevant celebs get attention from the community members. Sports and musicians are the first two things that come to my mind, after the Kardashians of course.
  • The UX is inconsistent with Twitter links and everything else. Twitter is just another place to upload youre photos, with a couple of lines of text, right? What is the reasoning to have different UX with Instagram links?
  • Then there is the legal concern - potential copyright violation. Even though the Instagram images are hotlinked from the IG servers, they are republished on an integral publication. Now the law is not 100% clear on hotlinking and varies in between countries, but I’d say there is risk factor here. Definitely don’t try republishing illegal content (say, child pornography) and base your legal defense on the fact that you were only hotlinking to the images, instead of being the original publisher.

This reminds me that Usain Bolt posted some medical photos to the Instagram right after the London games, with a greetings to the people who said that he quit rather than injured during the relay. An excellent example where the comments were as important as the actual photo.


Sure #pr-welcome can be added here if you create some visual mock ups of how you feel the onebox should look

My 2 cents here is that there is the same legal concern with

  • hotlinking any image
  • downloading any image
  • uploading any image

So this is why you either disable images or deal with this when the concern becomes a reality


Nope, Twitter was always 140 chars of text. They added images much later.

Happy to prioritize this when a paying customer asks for it. :smiley:

That is very true. We have taken this into account in our TOS and user guidance. Then again, Discourse’s behavior in the case of Instagram differs from how it treats links to websites or Twitter. Now it basically poaches the image content from Instagram as a default behavior, even though the user is not linking to the photo but to the social media update as a whole.

We’ll prolly blacklist Instagram from oneboxing as the initial measure to tackle the legal concern.

It poaches the image is potentially true for every hotlinked image or uploaded image so you are casting a laser net here for a ginormous theoretical problem

I want a better onebox for instagram

Sure make a visual mockup

I mark it pr welcome

Don’t see all the drama here


Instagram is an image hosting site, just like imgur. We should strive for parity there with imgur behavior.

If you have legal concerns I suggest you hire a lawyer.

I tried to work around this by adding “” to Onebox blacklist. Interestingly that did not have the desired impact - still getting only the image and not the social media update. :thinking:

Pretty sure that’s because it is currently considered an image hosting site, very much like Imgur, so it is treated like any other hotlinked image…

We should probably allow it to be oneboxed using the generic oneboxer, cause it is og tag central:
    <meta content="89 Likes, 4 Comments - &amp;#39;Wichcraft by Tom Colicchio (@wichcraft) on Instagram: “We don&amp;#39;t want #summer to end, so we&amp;#39;re going to be here staring at #wichpics of the #wichcraftBLT…”" name="description" />
    <meta property="og:site_name" content="Instagram" />
    <meta property="og:title" content="Instagram post by &#39;Wichcraft by Tom Colicchio • Sep 1, 2017 at 12:09pm UTC" />
    <meta property="og:image" content="" />
    <meta property="og:description" content="89 Likes, 4 Comments - &#39;Wichcraft by Tom Colicchio (@wichcraft) on Instagram: “We don&#39;t want #summer to end, so we&#39;re going to be here staring at #wichpics of the #wichcraftBLT…”" />
    <meta property="fb:app_id" content="124024574287414" />

It’s kind of the reverse twitter problem in that it maybe started as an image sharing site but very quickly became a “social” thing with text like twitter.


Not a bad idea… we would still need special handling not to have tiny onebox image, like the other generic oneboxers. So we’d be saying “the text is more important than the image” which I am not sure is correct. Unless Instagram is intended as a site for sharing text and tiny thumbnails :wink:

It looks like video updates on Instagram are handled as social media updates and not as embedded vids. Thumbnail and the textual update.

(Its a postgame interview of our goalie filmed on the road in Wolfsburg/Germany, in case the video thumbnail did not give you the whole story)

1 Like

I have no horse in this race when it comes to this being implemented, just wanted to note that I find this interesting because it makes me realize how a platform like Instagram can be very different things to different people, making this a tricky question! In one sense yes it’s basically for images. But it also carries a lot of context as a social media platform, and in many cases the caption and comments can be as important as the image. Often in Instagram posts the caption is critical for explaining the image, or may even include a whole mini-essay related to the image, or there may be important feedback or discussion in the comments. Not to mention the social dynamic of being able to click through to like/comment/follow. So the comparison with Twitter does seem apt despite the basic difference of text vs. image as kernel, in that in both cases removing the context can change the meaning of a post.


Just to add a little to the discussion, only the first image is shown when you add a link to an instagram post containing multiple images.

example, this post contains two photos of the box (front and back):


I guess we could look at better indicating that is a collection of images (an “album” I guess you would say), like we do for imgur @techapj?