I rarely delete photos from my Instagram account. But when I do, I expect them to be gone for good. Unfortunately, that has not been the case for Instagram in the last year or so.
A Bug in the System
An independent security researcher by the name Saugat Pokharel found a peculiar site when he downloaded his data from Instagram. He noticed his downloaded data contained photos and private messages with other users that he had previously deleted.
“Instagram didn’t delete my data even when I deleted them from my end,” he told TechCrunch.
Now, it’s safe to say that many social media platforms keep data for a certain amount of time before they delete it. In Instagram’s case, they say its own process takes about 90 days to fully remove deleted data from its system.
The unfortunate part is that Pokharel found that data he’d supposedly deleted from his Instagram from more than a year. Sounds scary.
Instagram Responds to ‘Deleted Images’ Claim
The company did not deny the claim and says it was due to a bug in its system and that it’s now fixed.
“The researcher reported an issue where someone’s deleted Instagram images and messages would be included in a copy of their information if they used our Download Your Information tool on Instagram. We’ve fixed the issue and have seen no evidence of abuse. We thank the researcher for reporting this issue to us.”
To commend his data saving achievements, a KES 600,000 bug bounty payout has been given to him. For now, it’s not clear how widespread this issue is. It’s not clear who it affects and neither is it an uncommon problem.
Twitter also had a phase when they were supposedly retaining direct messages between users that had been deleted.