2021-02-20: Creation Time and Published Time Are Not the Same: Estimating the Instagram Epoch

Figure 01: A capture of an Instagram post highlighting the “shortcode” for a post and its published time.  During the process of examining how the published datetime of a post can be extracted with the use of only the URL of an Instagram (IG) post, we have uncovered a discrepancy between the published time present in the HTML and the time that can be extracted from the shortcode (hereinafter creation time)  of an IG post. During the early stages of this study, we assumed both these values to be the same, similar to Twitter . The time extracted from a Twitter ID is the same as what’s displayed in the JSON object (and HTML) for the tweet.  Instagram is understudied in academic research based on its popularity, as compared to Twitter. By 2021, Twitter has 330 million monthly active users and Instagram has 1 billion active users . As of Feb 11, 2021, Google Scholar returns 7.52 million hits for “twitter” and 1.54 million hits for “instagram”. This results in an “active-users/Google Sch