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To a lot of people, Instagram’s new “Stories” feature seems like a thinly veiled attempt to compete with Snapchat.
But even though Instagram is seemingly trying to edge in on the temporary content market, a new bug shows that the platform isn’t actually deleting users’ video and photos — even after they’ve “expired.”
Alec Garcia, an Android software engineer, set out to bring Instagram Stories to web browsers by way of a Chrome extension.
By delving into Instagram’s code, however, Garcia discovered that Instagram is not deleting photos or videos from people’s Stories. Instead, those photos and videos continue to exist on Instagram’s servers long after the Stories expire, according to a post Garcia made on Medium.
And even if users manually delete a Stories video or photo, the content still lives on the server.
Additionally, Garcia’s Chrome extension allows users to view and download their friends’ Stories with the simple press of a button.
Gizmodo points out that existing third party applications allow users to do the same thing with Snapchat.
Garcia theorizes that Instagram is saving Stories content to be implemented in a Memories-type feature later on down the road. But, he mentions, the social media platform should be saving photos and videos to a secure archive, and not under a standard hyperlink.
Third party apps like this probably lessen the appeal of “temporary” photo and video social media networks. But, in all actuality, most users probably aren’t even aware that these apps exist, Gizmodo reports. This raises security and privacy concerns about Instagram and its parent company, Facebook.
If it was so easy for Garcia to create a web extension that allows users to download expired Story content, what does that say for the overall security of our content on both Instagram and Facebook?
In any case, it’s a lesson that nothing on the internet is temporary — even if we’re told that it is.