A bug on Instagram allowed users to delete the comments of others. You never knew about it, because a 10-year-old fixed it for you—and received $10,000 for doing so.
A Finnish schoolboy named Jani spotted the shortcoming in Instagram's platform back in February while poking around in the app and realizing that he could delete individual comments. He reported the vulnerability to Instagram which paid him as part of its bug bounty program, making Jani one of over 800 researchers who have been paid a total of $4.3 million through the program since 2011.
“I tested whether the comments section of Instagram can handle harmful code. Turns out it can’t. I noticed that I can delete other people’s comments from there,” Jani told the Helsinki-based newspaper Iltalehti. “I could have deleted anyone’s–like Justin Bieber’s for example–comments.”
While it's debatable if he could have done more public good by following through on his example and deleting Bieber's comments instead of reporting the bug, he opted for the latter—and was rewarded handsomely for it.
The 10-year-old isn't the first young gun to spot an issue in Instagram's code, but he is the youngest. Jani's interest in coding and video games started about two years ago, and he and his twin brother have been learning to code together by watching instructional videos on YouTube. The boy said he dream job would be to work in information security.
He's off to a good start on his goal—scoring a $10,000 prize is more than enough to motivate most people to keep pursuing a passion. As for what he plans to do with all that cash, there is a new bicycle and a football in his future.
H/T The Guardian