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Private Instagram Stories Aren’t Fully Private

The beauty of social media is that it connects everyone, but that reality also irritates privacy-minded citizens. A popular solution to that annoyance is to make your social media accounts private, and it’s a smart choice. Facebook accounts can easily be hidden from public searches, while Twitter and Instagram accounts can be made private. The issue with Instagram privacy settings in particular, however, is that they’re not completely secure.

Instagram stories haven taken off since they initially launched in 2016. The format is a popular way for friends to share what they’re doing that day without constantly posting on their actual profiles. But when it comes to security, these stories aren’t fully private. In fact, they can be downloaded and distributed publicly by using a pretty easy workaround. Using a desktop browser, a user simply has to load a page source while viewing the story. From there, a URL is generated, which can be easily shared with people who are not logged in to Instagram or do not follow that private user.

This loophole is similar to taking a screenshot of a private user’s Facebook or Twitter post, except it’s a direct link to the video or image, without any room for potential forgery. And it’s even more troubling considering that the links can make these images/videos last longer than their initially intended 24-hour life cycle. Now that Facebook has enabled a stories feature as well, the hack works for that platform as well. There is not currently a fix for this loophole, but it’s our duty to inform our users of it so that they can adjust their behavior accordingly. Be mindful of the kind of content you post to your Story, even if your account is set to private.

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