Work-around makes private Instagram posts and Stories viewable to anyone

Your Instagram followers can give other people access to your private photos and videos thanks to a simple trick that only requires a web browser, BuzzFeed News reports.

All a user has to do is right-click one of your photos, videos, or stories and then select “inspect” to obtain the content’s source URL. That URL will allow anyone, even those not logged into Instagram, to view, download, and share your content.

Further tests by BuzzFeed’s Tech + News Working Group found that stories that have expired after 24 hours can still be accessed for several days after with a URL. And the same trick also applies to your private Facebook posts.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, however, Facebook argued that the discovery was not as significant as it seems.

“The behavior described here is the same as taking a screenshot of a friend’s photo on Facebook and Instagram and sharing it with other people,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “It doesn’t give people access to a person’s private account.”

But BuzzFeed News says the hack isn’t comparable to taking a screenshot for numerous reasons.

“These public URLs contain some basic info about the photo or video they link to, including details about how it was uploaded and photo dimensions,” BuzzFeed News says. “They also prove authenticity; you can’t fake one. Beyond this, deleted photos and videos are being stored and accessed on Facebook’s content delivery network after a person took action to remove them from their profile.”

It remains to be seen whether Facebook removes the work-around.

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H/T BuzzFeed News

Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.