Instagram Lied and Kept Your “Deleted” Photos Around

Instagram Lied and Kept Your “Deleted” Photos Around

There’s an old saying that if you put something on the Internet, it’s out there forever. Even if you delete it or bury it on page 20 of Google results, someone’s got a copy of it.

In this case, it’s Instagram. Researcher Saugat Pokharel asked Instagram for a copy of everything they had on his account: photos, messages, etc. They sent him his data and he saw photos there that he’d deleted: Instagram was removing the images from the newsfeed, but not removing them from their servers at all.

Instagram claims it was a bug and paid Pokharel $6,000 for it as part of their bug bounty program. Pokharel says he’s confirmed the bug has been fixed.

If the data exists on a server, it can be retrieved by anyone with the interest and skills to do so: hackers, law enforcement, rogue employees. Without absolute transparency into the way the tech giants that we rely on work, we can never be sure until after the fact that they’ve actually complied with our requests.