A computer security researcher discovered that deleted Instagram content was still present in the archive. A bug that the social network finally corrected nine months later.
On a social network, when you ask to delete content, you have the right to expect that it will be completely erased from the servers and not only become invisible to you or to other members. And yet, in the case of Instagram, deleting photos or private messages was only publicly deleted.
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This is indeed what computer security researcher Saugat Pokharel discovered. As reported by the TechCrunch site, Instagram did not delete private messages and photographs from its servers within 90 days, as claimed by the social network: "Instagram did not delete my data, even when I deleted it from my side ".
After downloading all the data associated with his profile, thanks to the functionality put in place in 2018 following the implementation of the GDPR, Saugat Pokharel has, in fact, discovered that certain data, although deleted there is more than five years, were still present in its activity history. Therefore, if they were not visible to him or other Instagram users, the data could still be used by the Facebook subsidiary, in particular for the purpose of offering him more targeted advertising.
A bug finally fixed nine months after its discovery
This problem was reported in October 2019 by the computer security researcher and has finally been corrected. Saugat Pokharel has also received a bonus of 6 dollars for the discovery of this bug, under the Facebook bug hunter program. However, it took nine months for Instagram to correct the error, as the researcher indicates in a Medium post: “Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic has exploded around the world, which has mainly affected the United States. So the correction was postponed for a long time. It took until July 000, 7 for me to receive the correction confirmation message.”
For its part, questioned by TechCrunch, Instagram explains that this bug does not seem to have been used for malicious purposes: "The researcher discovered a problem thanks to which images and messages deleted from Instagram were copied in the information if one used the "Download your information" tool. We fixed the issue and found no evidence of abuse. We thank the researcher for reporting this issue to us.”